Today we'll take a closer look at Lycopodium Limited (ASX:LYL) 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. 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 Lycopodium yielding 7.6% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.
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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Lycopodium paid out 71% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a fairly normal payout ratio among most businesses. It allows a higher dividend to be paid to shareholders, but does limit the capital retained in the business - which could be good or bad.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Lycopodium's cash payout ratio last year was 15%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. It's positive to see that Lycopodium'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.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Lycopodium's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Lycopodium's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Lycopodium's dividend payments. Its dividend payments have declined on at least one occasion over the past ten years. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.25 in 2010, compared to AU$0.30 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 1.8% per year over this time. Lycopodium's dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn't grown 1.8% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.
It's good to see some dividend growth, but the dividend has been cut at least once, and the size of the cut would eliminate most of the growth, anyway. We're not that enthused by this.
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. It's good to see Lycopodium has been growing its earnings per share at 34% a year over the past five years. With recent, rapid earnings per share growth and a payout ratio of 71%, this business looks like an interesting prospect if earnings are reinvested effectively.
When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. First, we think Lycopodium has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Overall we think Lycopodium is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. For example, we've picked out 3 warning signs for Lycopodium that investors should know about before committing capital to this stock.
Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.
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.
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.