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How Does Midea Real Estate Holding Limited (HKG:3990) Stand Up To These Simple Dividend Safety Checks?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Midea Real Estate Holding Limited (HKG:3990) 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.

There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Midea Real Estate Holding for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

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SEHK:3990 Historical Dividend Yield, November 25th 2019

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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Midea Real Estate Holding paid out 35% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.

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

We update our data on Midea Real Estate Holding every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. This company has been paying a dividend for less than 2 years, which we think is too soon to consider it a reliable dividend stock. Its most recent annual dividend was CN¥1.08 per share.

It's good to see at least some dividend growth. Yet with a relatively short dividend paying history, we wouldn't want to depend on this dividend too heavily.

Dividend Growth Potential

Examining whether the dividend is affordable and stable is important. However, it's also important to assess if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Growing EPS can help maintain or increase the purchasing power of the dividend over the long run. It's good to see Midea Real Estate Holding has been growing its earnings per share at 43% a year over the past five years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.

We'd also point out that Midea Real Estate Holding issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental - it's hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Midea Real Estate Holding's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we like Midea Real Estate Holding's low dividend payout ratio, although we're a bit concerned that it paid out a substantially higher percentage of its free cash flow. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Midea Real Estate Holding out there.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 4 Midea Real Estate Holding analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.

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.

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.