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Should Exel Industries Société Anonyme (EPA:EXE) Be Part Of Your Dividend Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll take a closer look at Exel Industries Société Anonyme (EPA:EXE) 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 the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

While Exel Industries Société Anonyme's 2.5% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. Remember that the recent share price drop will make Exel Industries Société Anonyme's yield look higher, even though recent events might have impacted the company's prospects. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Exel Industries Société Anonyme!

ENXTPA:EXE Historical Dividend Yield, July 15th 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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Exel Industries Société Anonyme paid out 20% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. We'd say its dividends are thoroughly covered by earnings.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Exel Industries Société Anonyme paid out 236% of its free cash flow last year, suggesting the dividend is poorly covered by cash flow. Paying out such a high percentage of cash flow suggests that the dividend was funded from either cash at bank or by borrowing, neither of which is desirable over the long term. Exel Industries Société Anonyme paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn't generate enough free cash flow to cover the dividend. Were it to repeatedly pay dividends that were not well covered by cash flow, this could be a risk to Exel Industries Société Anonyme's ability to maintain its dividend.

Is Exel Industries Société Anonyme's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Exel Industries Société Anonyme has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) 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. Exel Industries Société Anonyme has net debt of 2.18 times its EBITDA. Using debt can accelerate business growth, but also increases the risks.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 14.78 times its interest expense, Exel Industries Société Anonyme's interest cover is quite strong - more than enough to cover the interest expense.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Exel Industries Société Anonyme's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Exel Industries Société Anonyme's dividend payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €0.75 in 2009, compared to €1.14 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 4.3% a year over that time. Exel Industries Société Anonyme's dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn't grown 4.3% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.

We're glad to see the dividend has risen, but with a limited rate of growth and fluctuations in the payments, we don't think this is an attractive combination.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. Exel Industries Société Anonyme has grown its earnings per share at 6.8% per annum over the past five years. With a decent amount of growth and a low payout ratio, we think this bodes well for Exel Industries Société Anonyme's prospects of growing its dividend payments in the future.

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. Firstly, the company has a conservative payout ratio, although we'd note that its cashflow in the past year was substantially lower than its reported profit. Second, earnings growth has been ordinary, and its history of dividend payments is chequered - having cut its dividend at least once in the past. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Exel Industries Société Anonyme from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 6 Exel Industries Société Anonyme analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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.