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Should You Buy Flow Traders N.V. (AMS:FLOW) For Its Dividend?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll take a closer look at Flow Traders N.V. (AMS:FLOW) 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. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

In this case, Flow Traders likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 9.5% dividend yield and four-year payment history. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Flow Traders for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Flow Traders!

ENXTAM:FLOW Historical Dividend Yield, June 25th 2019

Payout ratios

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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, Flow Traders paid out 155% of its profit as dividends. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.

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

Dividend Volatility

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 Flow Traders 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 €1.00 in 2015, compared to €2.35 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 24% per year over this time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.

So, its dividends have grown at a rapid rate over this time, but payments have been cut in the past. The stock may still be worth considering as part of a diversified dividend portfolio.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. It's not great to see that Flow Traders's have fallen at approximately 10% over the past five years. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company's dividend.

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. We're a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. With any dividend stock, we look for a sustainable payout ratio, steady dividends, and growing earnings. Flow Traders has a few too many issues for us to get interested.

Without at least some growth in earnings per share over time, the dividend will eventually come under pressure either from costs or inflation. Very few businesses see earnings consistently shrink year after year in perpetuity though, and so it might be worth seeing what the 5 analysts we track are forecasting for the future.

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.