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Does Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, Inc. (NYSE:HY) Have A Place In Your Dividend Stock Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, Inc. (NYSE:HY) 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. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

Investors might not know much about Hyster-Yale Materials Handling's dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last seven years and offers a 2.3% yield. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Hyster-Yale Materials Handling for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:HY Historical Dividend Yield, July 31st 2019

Payout ratios

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. In the last year, Hyster-Yale Materials Handling paid out 89% 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.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Last year, Hyster-Yale Materials Handling paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.

Is Hyster-Yale Materials Handling's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Hyster-Yale Materials Handling has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and 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. With net debt of 3.76 times its EBITDA, investors are starting to take on a meaningful amount of risk, should the business enter a downturn.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. Interest cover of 1.44 times its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well.

We update our data on Hyster-Yale Materials Handling every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. Looking at the data, we can see that Hyster-Yale Materials Handling has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. The dividend has been quite stable over the past seven 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 seven-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.00 in 2012, compared to US$1.27 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 3.5% 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. Growing EPS can help maintain or increase the purchasing power of the dividend over the long run. Hyster-Yale Materials Handling's EPS have fallen by approximately 27% per year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Hyster-Yale Materials Handling'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. First, the company has a payout ratio that was within an average range for most dividend stocks, but it paid out virtually all of its generated cash flow. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any earnings growth, and the company's dividend history has been too short for us to evaluate the consistency of the dividend. Using these criteria, Hyster-Yale Materials Handling looks quite suboptimal from a dividend investment perspective.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Hyster-Yale Materials Handling in our latest insider ownership analysis.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding 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.