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Is Hannover Rück SE (FRA:HNR1) A Smart Pick For Income Investors?

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Could Hannover Rück SE (FRA:HNR1) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the 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.

In this case, Hannover Rück likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 3.7% dividend yield and nine-year payment history. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Hannover Rück for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Hannover Rück!

DB:HNR1 Historical Dividend Yield, July 25th 2019
DB:HNR1 Historical Dividend Yield, July 25th 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. Hannover Rück paid out 42% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Hannover Rück'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. The first recorded dividend for Hannover Rück, in the last decade, was nine years ago. The dividend has been quite stable over the past nine years, which is great to see - although we usually like to see the dividend maintained for a decade before giving it full marks, though. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was €2.10 in 2010, compared to €5.25 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 11% per year over this time.

Hannover Rück has been growing its dividend quite rapidly, which is exciting. However, the short payment history makes us question whether this performance will persist across a full market cycle.

Dividend Growth Potential

The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Growing EPS can help maintain or increase the purchasing power of the dividend over the long run. Earnings have grown at around 3.8% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! A payout ratio below 50% leaves ample room to reinvest in the business, and provides finanical flexibility. However, earnings per share are unfortunately not growing much. Might this suggest that the company should pay a higher dividend instead?

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. We're glad to see Hannover Rück has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. Second, the company has not been able to generate earnings growth, and its history of dividend payments too short for us to thoroughly evaluate the dividend's consistency across an economic cycle. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Hannover Rück out there.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 18 analysts we track are forecasting for Hannover Rück for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

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.