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Could Wynn Macau, Limited (HKG:1128) Have The Makings Of Another Dividend Aristocrat?

Simply Wall St

Is Wynn Macau, Limited (HKG:1128) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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 nine-year payment history and a 5.4% yield, many investors probably find Wynn Macau intriguing. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Wynn Macau for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

SEHK:1128 Historical Dividend Yield, October 24th 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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. In the last year, Wynn Macau paid out 77% of its profit as dividends. 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.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Wynn Macau's cash payout ratio in the last year was 43%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by 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.

Is Wynn Macau's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Wynn Macau has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. 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. Wynn Macau has net debt of 2.25 times its 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. Wynn Macau has EBIT of 5.33 times its interest expense, which we think is adequate.

We update our data on Wynn Macau 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. The first recorded dividend for Wynn Macau, in the last decade, was nine years ago. Although it has been paying a dividend for several years now, the dividend has been cut at least once by more than 20%, and we're cautious about the consistency of its dividend across a full economic cycle. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was HK$1.94 in 2010, compared to HK$0.90 last year. This works out to be a decline of approximately 8.2% per year over that time. Wynn Macau's dividend has been cut sharply at least once, so it hasn't fallen by 8.2% every year, but this is a decent approximation of the long term change.

When a company's per-share dividend falls we question if this reflects poorly on either external business conditions, or the company's capital allocation decisions. Either way, we find it hard to get excited about a company with a declining dividend.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that dividend payments have been shrinking like a glacier in a warming world, we need to check if there are some bright spots on the horizon. In the last five years, Wynn Macau's earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 4.8% 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

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Wynn Macau's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we think Wynn Macau has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Ultimately, Wynn Macau 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.

Without at least some growth in earnings per share over time, the dividend will eventually come under pressure either from costs or inflation. See if the 19 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.