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Should Core Laboratories N.V. (NYSE:CLB) Be Part Of Your Income Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

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Could Core Laboratories N.V. (NYSE:CLB) 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. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.

With Core Laboratories yielding 4.5% 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. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Core Laboratories for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:CLB Historical Dividend Yield, May 30th 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 be 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 101% of Core Laboratories's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, from the perspective of an investor who hopes to own the company for many years, a payout ratio of above 100% is definitely a concern.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Core Laboratories paid out 108% of its free cash flow last year, suggesting the dividend is poorly covered by cash flow. As Core Laboratories's dividend was not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we would be concerned that this dividend could be at risk over the long term.

Is Core Laboratories's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Core Laboratories's dividend was not well covered by earnings, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A quick way to check a company's financial situation uses these two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures a company's total debt load relative to its earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the company's ability to pay the interest on its debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Core Laboratories has net debt of 2.84 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA). Using debt can accelerate business growth, but also increases the risks.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. Core Laboratories has EBIT of 7.42 times its interest expense, which we think is adequate.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Core Laboratories'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. Core Laboratories 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 US$0.20 in 2009, compared to US$2.20 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 27% a year over that time.

Dividends have been growing pretty quickly, and even more impressively, they haven't experienced any notable falls during this period.

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. Over the past five years, it looks as though Core Laboratories's EPS have declined at around 16% a year. 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 a bit uncomfortable with Core Laboratories paying out a high percentage of both its cashflow and earnings. Second, earnings per share have actually shrunk, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. There are a few too many issues for us to get comfortable with Core Laboratories from a dividend perspective. Businesses can change, but we would struggle to identify why an investor should rely on this stock for their income.

Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. See if the 14 analysts are forecasting a turnaround in our free collection of analyst estimates here.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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.