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Is CSP Inc. (NASDAQ:CSPI) A Good Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like CSP Inc. (NASDAQ:CSPI) 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. 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.

In this case, CSP likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 8.8% dividend yield and eight-year payment history. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. Remember that the recent share price drop will make CSP's yield look higher, even though recent events might have impacted the company's prospects. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying CSP for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on CSP!

NasdaqGM:CSPI Historical Dividend Yield March 29th 2020

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. Although it reported a loss over the past 12 months, CSP currently pays a dividend. When a company is loss-making, we next need to check to see if its cash flows can support the dividend.

Unfortunately, while CSP pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it's not ideal from a dividend perspective.

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

Consider getting our latest analysis on CSP'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. The first recorded dividend for CSP, in the last decade, was eight years ago. The dividend has been quite stable over the past eight years, which is great to see - although we usually like to see the dividend maintained for a decade before giving it full marks, though. During the past eight-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.10 in 2012, compared to US$0.60 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 25% a year over that 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

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 CSP's EPS have declined at around 32% a year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and CSP's earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

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. CSP's dividend is not well covered by free cash flow, plus it paid a dividend while being unprofitable. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has a relatively short dividend history - shorter than we like, anyway. There are a few too many issues for us to get comfortable with CSP from a dividend perspective. Businesses can change, but we would struggle to identify why an investor should rely on this stock for their income.

Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. For example, we've identified 4 warning signs for CSP (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.