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Does It Make Sense To Buy Atrium Mortgage Investment Corporation (TSE:AI) For Its Yield?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Atrium Mortgage Investment Corporation (TSE:AI) 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. 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 a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if Atrium Mortgage Investment is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Atrium Mortgage Investment for its dividend - read on to learn more.

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TSX:AI Historical Dividend Yield, May 22nd 2019

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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 94% of Atrium Mortgage Investment's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is quite a high payout ratio that suggests the dividend is not well covered by earnings.

We update our data on Atrium Mortgage Investment 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. Atrium Mortgage Investment has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. Its dividend has not fluctuated much that time, which we like, but we're conscious that the company might not yet have a track record of maintaining dividends in all economic conditions. During the past seven-year period, the first annual payment was CA$0.80 in 2012, compared to CA$0.90 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 1.7% per year over this time.

We like that the dividend hasn't been shrinking. However we're conscious that the company hasn't got an overly long track record of dividend payments yet, which makes us wary of relying on its dividend income.

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. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient's purchasing power. Earnings have grown at around 2.3% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! Still, the company has struggled to grow its EPS, and currently pays out 94% of its earnings. As they say in finance, 'past performance is not indicative of future performance', but we are not confident a company with limited earnings growth and a high payout ratio will be a star dividend payer over the next decade.

We'd also point out that Atrium Mortgage Investment 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 Atrium Mortgage Investment's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Atrium Mortgage Investment is paying out a larger percentage of its profit than we're comfortable with. Second, earnings growth has been ordinary, and its history of dividend payments is shorter than we'd like. To conclude, we've spotted a couple of potential concerns with Atrium Mortgage Investment that may make it less than ideal candidate for dividend investors.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 3 Atrium Mortgage Investment analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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.