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Is ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited (SGX:C52) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited (SGX:C52) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. 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.

With ComfortDelGro yielding 4.3% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying ComfortDelGro for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

SGX:C52 Historical Dividend Yield, December 9th 2019

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Looking at the data, we can see that 77% of ComfortDelGro's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. It's paying out most of its earnings, which limits the amount that can be reinvested in the business. This may indicate limited need for further capital within the business, or highlight a commitment to paying a dividend.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. ComfortDelGro paid out 106% of its free cash last year. Cash flows can be lumpy, but this dividend was not well covered by cash flow. ComfortDelGro paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn't generate enough free cash flow to cover the dividend. Were it to repeatedly pay dividends that were not well covered by cash flow, this could be a risk to ComfortDelGro's ability to maintain its dividend.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of ComfortDelGro'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. ComfortDelGro 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 S$0.048 in 2009, compared to S$0.10 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 8.1% a year over that time.

Dividends have grown at a reasonable rate over this period, and without any major cuts in the payment over time, we think this is an attractive combination.

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. ComfortDelGro has grown its earnings per share at 2.2% per annum over the past five years. Earnings are not growing quickly at all, and the company is paying out most of its profit as dividends. When a company prefers to pay out cash to its shareholders instead of reinvesting it, this can often say a lot about that company's dividend prospects.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that ComfortDelGro's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. ComfortDelGro gets a pass on its dividend payout ratio, but it paid out virtually all of its cash flow as dividends. This may just be a one-off, but we'd keep an eye on this. Second, earnings growth has been mediocre, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. Ultimately, ComfortDelGro comes up short on our dividend analysis. It's not that we think it is a bad company - just that there are likely more appealing dividend prospects out there on this analysis.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 14 analysts we track are forecasting for ComfortDelGro for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.