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Is Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Limited (ASX:GMA) A Risky Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

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Dividend paying stocks like Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Limited (ASX:GMA) 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.

With a five-year payment history and a 7.1% yield, many investors probably find Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia intriguing. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 12% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

ASX:GMA Historical Dividend Yield, July 22nd 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. 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 65% of Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. 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.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia'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. Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.066 in 2014, compared to AU$0.21 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 26% a year over that time. Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia's dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn't grown 26% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.

It's not great to see that the payment has been cut in the past. We're generally more wary of companies that have cut their dividend before, as they tend to perform worse in an economic downturn.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there's a good chance of bigger dividends in future? Over the past five years, it looks as though Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia's EPS have declined at around 14% a year. If earnings continue to decline, the dividend may come under pressure. Every investor should make an assessment of whether the company is taking steps to stabilise the situation.

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. First, we think Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia has an acceptable payout ratio. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. To conclude, we've spotted a couple of potential concerns with Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia that may make it less than ideal candidate for dividend investors.

You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia stock.

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.