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Should You Buy UBM Development AG (VIE:UBS) For Its Dividend?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at UBM Development AG (VIE:UBS) 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. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

With a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if UBM Development is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. 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 UBM Development!

WBAG:UBS Historical Dividend Yield, May 17th 2019

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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 41% of UBM Development's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Unfortunately, while UBM Development 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 UBM Development's Balance Sheet Risky?

As UBM Development has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick way to check a company's financial situation uses these two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company's total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments on debt. Essentially we check that a) a company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. With a net debt to EBITDA ratio of more than 10x, UBM Development is very highly levered. While this debt might be serviceable, we would still say it carries substantial risk for the investor who hopes to live on the dividend.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. Interest cover of less than 5x its interest expense is starting to become a concern for UBM Development, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well. Low interest cover and high debt can create problems right when the investor least needs them. We're generally reluctant to rely on the dividend of companies with these traits.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of UBM Development'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. The first recorded dividend for UBM Development, in the last decade, was nine years ago. The dividend has been quite stable over the past nine years, which is great to see - although we usually like to see the dividend maintained for a decade before giving it full marks, though. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was €0.50 in 2010, compared to €2.20 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 18% a year over that time.

The dividend has been growing pretty quickly, which could be enough to get us interested even though the dividend history is relatively short. Further research may be warranted.

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. It's good to see UBM Development has been growing its earnings per share at 20% a year over the past 5 years. A company paying out less than a quarter of its earnings as dividends, and growing earnings at more than 10% per annum, looks to be right in the cusp of its growth phase. At the right price, we might be interested.

We'd also point out that UBM Development issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Trying to grow the dividend when issuing new shares reminds us of the ancient Greek tale of Sisyphus - perpetually pushing a boulder uphill. Companies that consistently issue new shares are often suboptimal from a dividend perspective.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that UBM Development's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we like UBM Development's low dividend payout ratio, although we're a bit concerned that it paid out a substantially higher percentage of its free cash flow. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than UBM Development out there.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 5 analysts we track are forecasting for UBM Development for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 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.