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How Does Pental Limited (ASX:PTL) Fare As A Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Is Pental Limited (ASX:PTL) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.

With Pental yielding 6.2% 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 research can reduce the risk of buying Pental for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Pental!

ASX:PTL Historical Dividend Yield, November 24th 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, Pental paid out 142% of its profit as dividends. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, from the perspective of an investor who hopes to own the company for many years, a payout ratio of above 100% is definitely a concern.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Unfortunately, while Pental pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it's not ideal from a dividend perspective.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Pental'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 Pental'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 Pental's dividend payments. The dividend has been cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.30 in 2009, compared to AU$0.02 last year. Dividend payments have fallen sharply, down 93% over that time.

A shrinking dividend over a ten-year period is not ideal, and we'd be concerned about investing in a dividend stock that lacks a solid record of growing dividends per share.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, and a poor history of shrinking dividends, it's even more important to see if EPS are growing. Pental's EPS have fallen by approximately 23% per year during the past five years. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Pental'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. Pental paid out almost all of its cash flow and profit as dividends, leaving little to reinvest in the business. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. There are a few too many issues for us to get comfortable with Pental from a dividend perspective. Businesses can change, but we would struggle to identify why an investor should rely on this stock for their income.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Pental 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%.

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.