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Is Community West Bancshares (NASDAQ:CWBC) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Simply Wall St

Could Community West Bancshares (NASDAQ:CWBC) 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 popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

With a 2.2% yield and a five-year payment history, investors probably think Community West Bancshares looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 2.2% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. The company also returned around 1.5% of its market capitalisation to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks over the past year. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Community West Bancshares for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Community West Bancshares!

NasdaqGM:CWBC Historical Dividend Yield, October 25th 2019

Payout ratios

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. In the last year, Community West Bancshares paid out 25% of its profit as dividends. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Community West Bancshares's financial position here.

Dividend Volatility

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. Looking at the data, we can see that Community West Bancshares has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.08 in 2014, compared to US$0.22 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 22% per year over this time.

We're not overly excited about the relatively short history of dividend payments, however the dividend is growing at a nice rate and we might take a closer look.

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. In the last five years, Community West Bancshares's earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 6.5% per annum. If earnings continue to decline, the dividend may come under pressure. Every investor should make an assessment of whether the company is taking steps to stabilise the situation.

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. We're glad to see Community West Bancshares has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. Earnings per share are down, and to our mind Community West Bancshares has not been paying a dividend long enough to demonstrate its resilience across economic cycles. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Community West Bancshares out there.

Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on Community West Bancshares management tenure, salary, and performance.

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.