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Should You Buy Protective Insurance Corporation (NASDAQ:PTVC.B) For Its 6.9% Dividend?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at Protective Insurance Corporation (NASDAQ:PTVC.B) 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. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Protective Insurance. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 4.2% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Protective Insurance!

NasdaqGM:PTVC.B 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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. Although it reported a loss over the past 12 months, Protective Insurance currently pays a dividend. When a financial business is loss-making and pays a dividend, the dividend is not covered by profits. Its important that investors assess the quality of the company's assets and whether it can return to generating a positive income.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Protective Insurance'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. Protective Insurance has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of 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$1.00 in 2009, compared to US$1.12 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 1.1% a year over that time.

Dividends have grown relatively slowly, which is not great, but some investors may value the relative consistency of the dividend.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend's purchasing power over the long term. Over the past five years, it looks as though Protective Insurance's EPS have declined at around 45% a year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Protective Insurance's earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company's dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. First, it's not great to see a dividend being paid despite the company being unprofitable over the last year. Second, earnings per share have actually shrunk, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. To conclude, we've spotted a couple of potential concerns with Protective Insurance that may make it less than ideal candidate for dividend investors.

See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in Protective Insurance 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 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.