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How Does Geely Automobile Holdings Limited (HKG:175) Fare As A Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at Geely Automobile Holdings Limited (HKG:175) 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. 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.

A slim 3.0% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Geely Automobile Holdings could have potential. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

SEHK:175 Historical Dividend Yield, August 8th 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 22% of Geely Automobile Holdings's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. With a low payout ratio, it looks like the dividend is comprehensively covered by earnings.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Of the free cash flow it generated last year, Geely Automobile Holdings paid out 33% as dividends, suggesting the dividend is affordable. It's positive to see that Geely Automobile 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 Geely Automobile Holdings's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Geely Automobile Holdings's dividend payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was CN¥0.014 in 2009, compared to CN¥0.30 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 36% a year over that time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 36% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

It's not great to see that the payment has been cut in the past. We're generally more wary of companies that have cut their dividend before, as they tend to perform worse in an economic downturn.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. It's good to see Geely Automobile Holdings has been growing its earnings per share at 35% a year over the past 5 years. The company is only paying out a fraction of its earnings as dividends, and in the past been able to use the retained earnings to grow its profits rapidly - an ideal combination.

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. It's great to see that Geely Automobile Holdings is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings per share growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. All things considered, Geely Automobile Holdings looks like a strong prospect. At the right valuation, it could be something special.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 28 analysts we track are forecasting for Geely Automobile Holdings for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

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.