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Consider This Before Buying Supremex Inc. (TSE:SXP) For The 9.8% Dividend

Simply Wall St

Could Supremex Inc. (TSE:SXP) 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.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Supremex. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 0.6% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

TSX:SXP Historical Dividend Yield, September 3rd 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. Although Supremex pays a dividend, it was loss-making during the past year. When a company recently reported a loss, we should investigate if its cash flows covered the dividend.

Supremex paid out 111% of its free cash flow last year, suggesting the dividend is poorly covered by cash flow.

Is Supremex's Balance Sheet Risky?

Given Supremex is paying a dividend but reported a loss over the past year, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. 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 is a measure of a company's total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments. Essentially we check that a) the company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Supremex has net debt of 2.32 times its EBITDA. Using debt can accelerate business growth, but also increases the risks.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. Net interest cover of 5.70 times its interest expense appears reasonable for Supremex, although we're conscious that even high interest cover doesn't make a company bulletproof.

We update our data on Supremex every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, 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. Supremex has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This company's dividend has not fluctuated wildly, but its dividend per share payments have still decreased substantially over this time, which is not ideal. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was CA$1.15 in 2009, compared to CA$0.26 last year. This works out to a decline of approximately 77% over that time.

We struggle to make a case for buying Supremex for its dividend, given that payments have shrunk over the past ten years.

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. Supremex's EPS have fallen by approximately 22% per year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Supremex's earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Supremex's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Supremex's dividend is not well covered by free cash flow, plus it paid a dividend while being unprofitable. It hasn't demonstrated a strong ability to grow earnings per share, but we like that the dividend payments have been fairly consistent. In this analysis, Supremex doesn't shape up too well as a dividend stock. We'd find it hard to look past the flaws, and would not be inclined to think of it as a reliable dividend-payer.

You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in Supremex stock.

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.