Could Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment Co., Ltd. (HKG:3768) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. 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.
Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment pays a 7.5% dividend yield, and has been paying dividends for the past three years. A high yield probably looks enticing, but investors are likely wondering about the short payment history. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.
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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. In the last year, Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment paid out 35% of its profit as dividends. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Unfortunately, while Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it’s not ideal from a dividend perspective.
Is Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment’s Balance Sheet Risky?
As Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company’s total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments. Essentially we check that a) the company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment is carrying net debt of 4.09 times its EBITDA, which is getting towards the upper limit of our comfort range on a dividend stock that the investor hopes will endure a wide range of economic circumstances.
Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment has EBIT of 6.11 times its interest expense, which we think is adequate.
Consider getting our latest analysis on Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment’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. This company’s dividend has been unstable, and with a relatively short history, we think it’s a little soon to draw strong conclusions about its long term dividend potential. During the past three-year period, the first annual payment was CN¥0.10 in 2017, compared to CN¥0.13 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 7.7% per year over this time. Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment’s dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn’t grown 7.7% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.
Dividends have grown at a reasonable rate, but with at least one substantial cut in the payments, we’re not certain this dividend stock would be ideal for someone intending to live on the income.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, it’s even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there’s a good chance of bigger dividends in future? While there may be fluctuations in the past , Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment’s earnings per share have basically not grown from where they were five years ago. Over the long term, steady earnings per share is a risk as the value of the dividends can be reduced by inflation. A payout ratio below 50% leaves ample room to reinvest in the business, and provides finanical flexibility. However, earnings per share are unfortunately not growing much. Might this suggest that the company should pay a higher dividend instead?
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. Firstly, the company has a conservative payout ratio, although we’d note that its cashflow in the past year was substantially lower than its reported profit. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment from a dividend perspective. It’s not that we think it’s a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. For example, we’ve identified 3 warning signs for Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at [email protected] 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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