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Is 4imprint Group plc (LON:FOUR) A Smart Pick For Income Investors?

Simply Wall St

Is 4imprint Group plc (LON:FOUR) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

While 4imprint Group's 1.9% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding 4imprint Group for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on 4imprint Group!

LSE:FOUR Historical Dividend Yield, November 12th 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. 4imprint Group paid out 55% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. 4imprint Group paid out 52% of its free cash flow last year, which is acceptable, but is starting to limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested into the business. It's positive to see that 4imprint 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.

With a strong net cash balance, 4imprint Group investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of 4imprint Group's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of 4imprint Group'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$0.17 in 2009, compared to US$0.70 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 15% a year over that time.

Dividends have been growing pretty quickly, and even more impressively, they haven't experienced any notable falls during this period.

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 good to see 4imprint Group has been growing its earnings per share at 28% a year over the past five years. With recent, rapid earnings per share growth and a payout ratio of 55%, this business looks like an interesting prospect if earnings are reinvested effectively.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. First, we think 4imprint Group is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. That said, we were glad to see it growing earnings and paying a fairly consistent dividend. 4imprint Group has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 7 4imprint Group analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Thank you for reading.