Dividend paying stocks like AGES Industri AB (publ) (STO:AGES B) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.
With a 2.8% yield and a four-year payment history, investors probably think AGES Industri looks like a reliable dividend stock. A low yield is generally a turn-off, but if the prospects for earnings growth were strong, investors might be pleasantly surprised by the long-term results. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.
Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, 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. In the last year, AGES Industri paid out 48% of its profit as dividends. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Unfortunately, while AGES Industri 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 AGES Industri's Balance Sheet Risky?
As AGES Industri 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 measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With net debt of 2.00 times its EBITDA, AGES Industri has a noticeable amount of debt, although if business stays steady, this may not be overly concerning.
We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. Net interest cover of 5.23 times its interest expense appears reasonable for AGES Industri, although we're conscious that even high interest cover doesn't make a company bulletproof.
Consider getting our latest analysis on AGES Industri's financial position here.
From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. Looking at the data, we can see that AGES Industri has been paying a dividend for the past four years. It has only been paying dividends for a few short years, and the dividend has already been cut at least once. This is one income stream we're not ready to live on. During the past four-year period, the first annual payment was kr4.00 in 2015, compared to kr1.50 last year. The dividend has fallen 63% over that period.
When a company's per-share dividend falls we question if this reflects poorly on either the business or management. Either way, we find it hard to get excited about a company with a declining dividend.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, and a poor history of shrinking dividends, it's even more important to see if EPS are growing. Over the past five years, it looks as though AGES Industri's EPS have declined at around 15% a year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and AGES Industri's earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.
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. AGES Industri has a low payout ratio, which we like, although it paid out virtually all of its generated cash. Second, earnings per share have been essentially flat, and its history of dividend payments is chequered - having cut its dividend at least once in the past. With this information in mind, we think AGES Industri may not be an ideal dividend stock.
You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in AGES Industri stock.
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 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. Thank you for reading.