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Should You Buy Chr. Hansen Holding A/S (CPH:CHR) For Its Dividend?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at Chr. Hansen Holding A/S (CPH:CHR) 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. 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 2.6% yield and a nine-year payment history, investors probably think Chr. Hansen Holding looks like a reliable dividend stock. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Chr. Hansen Holding for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Chr. Hansen Holding!

CPSE:CHR Historical Dividend Yield, October 14th 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. Chr. Hansen Holding paid out 50% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a fairly normal payout ratio among most businesses. It allows a higher dividend to be paid to shareholders, but does limit the capital retained in the business - which could be good or bad.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Chr. Hansen Holding paid out 72% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Chr. Hansen Holding's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

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. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that Chr. Hansen Holding paid its first dividend at least nine years ago. It's good to see that Chr. Hansen Holding has been paying a dividend for a number of years. However, the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, and we're concerned that what has been cut once, could be cut again. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was €0.086 in 2010, compared to €1.79 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 40% per year over this time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 40% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

It's not great to see that the payment has been cut in the past. We're generally more wary of companies that have cut their dividend before, as they tend to perform worse in an economic downturn.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing - it's not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Chr. Hansen Holding has grown its earnings per share at 14% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing rapidly, but given that it is paying out more than half of its earnings as dividends, we wonder how Chr. Hansen Holding will keep funding its growth projects in the future.

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. Chr. Hansen Holding's is paying out more than half its income as dividends, but at least the dividend is covered by both reported earnings and cashflow. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Chr. Hansen Holding out there.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 10 analysts we track are forecasting for Chr. Hansen Holding for free with public 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.