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Is Extra Space Storage Inc. (NYSE:EXR) A Smart Pick For Income Investors?

Simply Wall St

Could Extra Space Storage Inc. (NYSE:EXR) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the 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.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Extrace Storage. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Extrace Storage!

NYSE:EXR Historical Dividend Yield, May 21st 2019

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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. 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. Extrace Storage paid out 69% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. The company paid out 63% of its free cash flow, which is not bad per se, but does start to limit the amount of cash Extrace Storage has available to meet other needs. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

Is Extrace Storage's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Extrace Storage has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick way to check a company's financial situation uses these two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures a company's total debt load relative to its earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the company's ability to pay the interest on its debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With net debt of more than 5x EBITDA, Extrace Storage could be described as a highly leveraged company. While some companies can handle this level of leverage, we'd be concerned about the dividend sustainability if there was any risk of an earnings downturn.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 3.35 times its interest expense, Extrace Storage's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin. High debt and weak interest cover are not a great combo, and we would be cautious of relying on this company's dividend while these metrics persist.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Extrace Storage's financial position here.

Dividend Volatility

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. Extrace Storage has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.52 in 2009, compared to US$3.44 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 21% a year over that time.


Dividend Growth Potential

Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Extrace Storage has grown its earnings per share at 17% per annum over the past five years. Extrace Storage's earnings per share have grown rapidly in recent years, although more than half of its profits are being paid out as dividends, which makes us wonder if the company has a limited number of reinvestment opportunities in its business.

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. Extrace Storage's is paying out more than half its income as dividends, but at least the dividend is covered both by reported earnings and cashflow. That said, we were glad to see it growing earnings and paying a fairly consistent dividend. Overall we think Extrace Storage is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 6 Extrace Storage 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%.

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.