Today we'll take a closer look at Cowell e Holdings Inc. (HKG:1415) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.
Cowell e Holdings yields a solid 9.2%, although it has only been paying for two years. A 9.2% yield does look good. Could the short payment history hint at future dividend growth? Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.
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 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 86% of Cowell e Holdings's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. Paying out a majority of its earnings limits the amount that can be reinvested in the business. This may indicate a commitment to paying a dividend, or a dearth of investment opportunities.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Cowell e Holdings's cash payout ratio last year was 8.0%. Cash flows are typically lumpy, but this looks like an appropriately conservative payout. It's positive to see that Cowell e Holdings's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Cowell e Holdings's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. This company's dividend has been unstable, and with a relatively short history, we think it's a little soon to draw strong conclusions about its long term dividend potential. During the past two-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.01 in 2017, compared to US$0.014 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 18% a year over that time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.
So, its dividends have grown at a rapid rate over this time, but payments have been cut in the past. The stock may still be worth considering as part of a diversified dividend portfolio.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing - it's not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. Cowell e Holdings's EPS have fallen by approximately 24% per year. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.
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. First, we think Cowell e Holdings has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings per share growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Cowell e Holdings from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.
See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in Cowell e Holdings stock.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.