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Is Grieg Seafood ASA (OB:GSF) A Great Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Grieg Seafood ASA (OB:GSF) 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. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

A 2.9% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Grieg Seafood has some staying power. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Grieg Seafood for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

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OB:GSF Historical Dividend Yield, December 22nd 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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, Grieg Seafood paid out 90% of its profit as dividends. It's paying out most of its earnings, which limits the amount that can be reinvested in the business. This may indicate limited need for further capital within the business, or highlight a commitment to paying a dividend.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Grieg Seafood paid out 71% of its free cash flow last year, which is acceptable, but is starting to limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested into the business. It's positive to see that Grieg Seafood'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.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Grieg Seafood's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. Grieg Seafood 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 cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was kr0.25 in 2009, compared to kr4.00 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 32% per year over this time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 32% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of 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? Grieg Seafood has grown its earnings per share at 2.7% per annum over the past five years. Grieg Seafood's earnings per share have barely grown, which is not ideal - perhaps this is why the company pays out the majority of its earnings to shareholders. That's fine as far as it goes, but we're less enthusiastic as this often signals that the dividend is likely to grow slower in the future.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Grieg Seafood's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Grieg Seafood's is paying out more than half its income as dividends, but at least the dividend is covered by both reported earnings and cashflow. Unfortunately, earnings growth has also been mediocre, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Grieg Seafood 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.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 5 analysts we track are forecasting for Grieg Seafood for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.