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Is Consun Pharmaceutical Group Limited (HKG:1681) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Consun Pharmaceutical Group Limited (HKG:1681) 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. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.

With a five-year payment history and a 4.6% yield, many investors probably find Consun Pharmaceutical Group intriguing. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 1.3% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

SEHK:1681 Historical Dividend Yield, October 7th 2019

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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. In the last year, Consun Pharmaceutical Group paid out 46% 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.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Consun Pharmaceutical Group paid out 56% of its free cash flow last year, which is acceptable, but is starting to limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested into the business. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Consun Pharmaceutical Group's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Consun Pharmaceutical Group's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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 Consun Pharmaceutical Group has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was CN¥0.076 in 2014, compared to CN¥0.18 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 19% a year over that time. Consun Pharmaceutical Group's dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn't grown 19% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.

Consun Pharmaceutical Group has grown distributions at a rapid rate despite cutting the dividend at least once in the past. Companies that cut once often cut again, but it might be worth considering if the business has turned a corner.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Consun Pharmaceutical Group has grown its earnings per share at 24% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. Consun Pharmaceutical Group's dividend payout ratios are within normal bounds, although we note its cash flow is not as strong as the income statement would suggest. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Overall we think Consun Pharmaceutical Group is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 5 Consun Pharmaceutical Group analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on 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%.

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.