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Should You Buy Summit Hotel Properties, Inc. (NYSE:INN) For Its Dividend?

Simply Wall St

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Could Summit Hotel Properties, Inc. (NYSE:INN) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

With a eight-year payment history and a 6.2% yield, many investors probably find Summit Hotel Properties intriguing. 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 Summit Hotel Properties for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:INN Historical Dividend Yield, July 9th 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 58% of Summit Hotel Properties's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. 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.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. With a cash payout ratio of 121%, Summit Hotel Properties's dividend payments are poorly covered by cash flow. While Summit Hotel Properties's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, free cash flow is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Cash is king, as they say, and were Summit Hotel Properties to repeatedly pay dividends that aren't well covered by cashflow, we would consider this a warning sign.

REITs like Summit Hotel Properties often have different rules governing their distributions, so a higher payout ratio on its own is not unusual.

Is Summit Hotel Properties's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Summit Hotel Properties 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). Summit Hotel Properties is carrying net debt of 4.93 times its EBITDA, which is getting towards the upper limit of our comfort range on a dividend stock that the investor hopes will endure a wide range of economic circumstances.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 1.97 times its interest expense, Summit Hotel Properties's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin.

We update our data on Summit Hotel Properties every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. The first recorded dividend for Summit Hotel Properties, in the last decade, was eight years ago. During the past eight-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.45 in 2011, compared to US$0.72 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 6.1% a year over that time.

Summit Hotel Properties has been growing its dividend at a decent rate, and the payments have been stable despite the short payment history. This is a positive start.

Dividend Growth Potential

The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient's purchasing power. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Summit Hotel Properties has grown its earnings per share at 21% per annum over the past five years. With recent, rapid earnings per share growth and a payout ratio of 58%, this business looks like an interesting prospect if earnings are reinvested effectively.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Summit Hotel Properties's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, the company has a payout ratio that was within an average range for most dividend stocks, but it paid out virtually all of its generated cash flow. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Summit Hotel Properties from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 6 analysts we track are forecasting for Summit Hotel Properties 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.