Today we'll take a closer look at CESC Limited (NSE:CESC) 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.
While CESC's 2.2% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding CESC for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.
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. Looking at the data, we can see that 19% of CESC's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. CESC's cash payout ratio last year was 16%. Cash flows are typically lumpy, but this looks like an appropriately conservative payout. It's positive to see that CESC's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Is CESC's Balance Sheet Risky?
As CESC has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) 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). With net debt of 4.59 times its EBITDA, investors are starting to take on a meaningful amount of risk, should the business enter a downturn.
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 1.58 times its interest expense is starting to become a concern for CESC, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well.
Consider getting our latest analysis on CESC's financial position here.
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. CESC has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was ₹4.00 in 2009, compared to ₹17.50 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 16% per year over this time.
With rapid dividend growth and no notable cuts to the dividend over a lengthy period of time, we think this company has a lot going for it.
Dividend Growth Potential
Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. It's good to see CESC has been growing its earnings per share at 18% a year over the past five years. Rapid earnings growth and a low payout ratio suggests this company has been effectively reinvesting in its business. Should that continue, this company could have a bright future.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that CESC'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 that the company's dividend payments appear well covered, although the retained capital also needs to be effectively reinvested. That said, we were glad to see it growing earnings and paying a fairly consistent dividend. All these things considered, we think this organisation has a lot going for it from a dividend perspective.
Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 8 CESC analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on 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 email@example.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.