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Should Helios Underwriting Plc (LON:HUW) Be Part Of Your Dividend Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

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Could Helios Underwriting Plc (LON:HUW) 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. 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.

Investors might not know much about Helios Underwriting's dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last five years and offers a 1.1% yield. A 1.1% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 1.1% of market capitalisation this year. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Helios Underwriting for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

AIM:HUW Historical Dividend Yield, June 18th 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 48% of Helios Underwriting's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

We update our data on Helios Underwriting 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. Looking at the data, we can see that Helios Underwriting has been paying a dividend for the past five years. Its most recent annual dividend was UK£0.015 per share, effectively flat on its first payment five years ago.

It's good to see some dividend growth, but the dividend has been cut at least once, and the size of the cut would eliminate most of the growth, anyway. We're not that enthused by this.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. It's not great to see that Helios Underwriting's have fallen at approximately 18% 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. Firstly, we like that Helios Underwriting has a low and conservative payout ratio. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In summary, we're unenthused by Helios Underwriting as a dividend stock. It's not that we think it is a bad company; it simply falls short of our criteria in some key areas.

You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in Helios Underwriting stock.

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.