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Is Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme (EPA:GEA) At Risk Of Cutting Its Dividend?

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Dividend paying stocks like Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme (EPA:GEA) 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. 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.

A 2.1% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme has some staying power. 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

ENXTPA:GEA 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. 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. Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme paid out 49% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Unfortunately, while Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it's not ideal from a dividend perspective.

With a strong net cash balance, Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

We update our data on Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme 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. Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme 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 fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €0.80 in 2009, compared to €2.10 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 10% per year over this 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.

So, its dividends have grown at a rapid rate over this time, but payments have been cut in the past. The stock may still be worth considering as part of a diversified dividend portfolio.

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. In the last five years, Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme's earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 18% per annum. 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

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 per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In summary, Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme has a number of shortcomings that we'd find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are likely more attractive alternatives out there.

See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in Grenobloise d'Electronique et d'Automatismes Société Anonyme stock.

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.