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How Does Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation (NYSE:ACRE) Fare As A Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Could Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation (NYSE:ACRE) 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 a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if Ares Commercial Real Estate is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

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NYSE:ACRE Historical Dividend Yield, May 15th 2019

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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. 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, Ares Commercial Real Estate paid out 91% of its profit as dividends. With a payout ratio this high, we'd say its dividend is not well covered by earnings. This may be fine if earnings are growing, but it might not take much of a downturn for the dividend to come under pressure.


Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Ares Commercial Real Estate'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. Ares Commercial Real Estate has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. The company has been paying a stable dividend for a while now, which is great. However we'd prefer to see consistency for a few more years before giving it our full seal of approval. During the past seven-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.20 in 2012, compared to US$1.32 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 1.4% a year over that time.

Modest dividend growth is good to see, especially with the payments being relatively stable. However, the payment history is relatively short and we wouldn't want to rely on this dividend too much.

Dividend Growth Potential

The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient's purchasing power. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Ares Commercial Real Estate has grown its earnings per share at 13% per annum over the past five years. While EPS are growing rapidly, Ares Commercial Real Estate paid out a very high 91% of its income as dividends. If earnings continue to grow, this dividend may be sustainable, but we think a payout this high definitely bears watching.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Ares Commercial Real Estate's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We're a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Ares Commercial Real Estate out there.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 5 analysts we track are forecasting for Ares Commercial Real Estate for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

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.