Today we’ll take a closer look at American Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMSW.A) from a dividend investor’s perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it’s important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you’ll find our analysis useful.
A 2.7% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests American Software has some staying power. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying American Software for its dividend, and we’ll go through these below.
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Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company’s net income after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 172% of American Software’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. The company paid out 75% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is adequate, but reduces the wriggle room in the event of a downturn. It’s good to see that while American Software’s dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. If executives were to continue paying more in dividends than the company reported in profits, we’d view this as a warning sign. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.
With a strong net cash balance, American Software investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.
Consider getting our latest analysis on American Software’s financial position here.
One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well – nasty. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of American Software’s dividend payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.36 in 2010, compared to US$0.44 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 2.0% a year over that time.
Dividends have grown relatively slowly, which is not great, but some investors may value the relative consistency of the dividend.
Dividend Growth Potential
Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. It’s not great to see that American Software’s have fallen at approximately 7.3% over the past five years. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company’s dividend.
We’d also point out that American Software issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental – it’s hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.
Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company’s dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. We’re a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio, although at least the dividend was covered by free cash flow. It’s not great to see earnings per share shrinking. The dividends have been relatively consistent, but we wonder for how much longer this will be true. In summary, American Software has a number of shortcomings that we’d find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are likely more attractive alternatives out there.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. For example, we’ve picked out 4 warning signs for American Software that investors should know about before committing capital to this stock.
Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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