Readers hoping to buy Independence Group NL (ASX:IGO) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 12th of September will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 26th of September.
Independence Group's next dividend payment will be AU$0.08 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed AU$0.16 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Independence Group stock has a trailing yield of around 2.6% on the current share price of A$6.12. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. It paid out 78% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. It could become a concern if earnings started to decline. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. It paid out 8.9% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservatively low.
It's positive to see that Independence Group's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Independence Group's earnings per share have dropped 9.1% a year over the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Independence Group has delivered 15% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. That's intriguing, but the combination of growing dividends despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out a larger percentage of profits. Independence Group is already paying out 78% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.
Has Independence Group got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? The payout ratios are within a reasonable range, implying the dividend may be sustainable. Declining earnings are a serious concern, however, and could pose a threat to the dividend in future. It might be worth researching if the company is reinvesting in growth projects that could grow earnings and dividends in the future, but for now we're not all that optimistic on its dividend prospects.
Curious what other investors think of Independence Group? See what analysts are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow .
We wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see, though. Here's a list of interesting dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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