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Is Green Cross Health Limited (NZSE:GXH) The Right Choice For A Smart Dividend Investor?

Simply Wall St

Is Green Cross Health Limited (NZSE:GXH) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.

In this case, Green Cross Health likely looks attractive to investors, given its 6.7% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Green Cross Health!

NZSE:GXH Historical Dividend Yield May 23rd 2020

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. In the last year, Green Cross Health paid out 67% of its profit as dividends. A payout ratio above 50% generally implies a business is reaching maturity, although it is still possible to reinvest in the business or increase the dividend over time.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Green Cross Health's cash payout ratio in the last year was 30%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business. It's positive to see that Green Cross Health's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

We update our data on Green Cross Health every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. Green Cross Health has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having been cut one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was NZ$0.013 in 2010, compared to NZ$0.07 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 19% a year over that time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.

Green Cross Health has grown distributions at a rapid rate despite cutting the dividend at least once in the past. Companies that cut once often cut again, but it might be worth considering if the business has turned a corner.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing - it's not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. It's not great to see that Green Cross Health's have fallen at approximately 2.4% over the past five years. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company's dividend.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Green Cross Health's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we think Green Cross Health has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. Earnings per share are down, and Green Cross Health's dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Green Cross Health out there.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. For instance, we've picked out 2 warning signs for Green Cross Health that investors should take into consideration.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.

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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.