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Is H&R Real Estate Investment Trust (TSE:HR.UN) At Risk Of Cutting Its Dividend?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll take a closer look at H&R Real Estate Investment Trust (TSE:HR.UN) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. 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 H&R Real Estate Investment Trust yielding 5.9% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 0.9% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying H&R Real Estate Investment Trust for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on H&R Real Estate Investment Trust!

TSX:HR.UN Historical Dividend Yield, July 8th 2019

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. 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, H&R Real Estate Investment Trust paid out 75% 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.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. The company paid out 88% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is adequate, but reduces the wriggle room in the event of a downturn. 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.

We update our data on H&R Real Estate Investment Trust every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of H&R Real Estate Investment Trust's dividend payments. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was CA$1.44 in 2009, compared to CA$1.38 last year. The dividend has shrunk at a rate of less than 1% a year over this period.

When a company's per-share dividend falls we question if this reflects poorly on either the business or management. Either way, we find it hard to get excited about a company with a declining dividend.

Dividend Growth Potential

The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient's purchasing power. It's not great to see that H&R Real Estate Investment Trust's have fallen at approximately 6.1% 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

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 H&R Real Estate Investment Trust is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. From a dividend perspective, this is a cause for concern. In summary, H&R Real Estate Investment Trust 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.

You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in H&R Real Estate Investment Trust stock.

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