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Is Henderson Land Development Company Limited (HKG:12) A Great Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Henderson Land Development Company Limited (HKG:12) 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. 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.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Henderson Land Development. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Henderson Land Development for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

SEHK:12 Historical Dividend Yield, March 26th 2020

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 51% of Henderson Land Development's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. 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.

We update our data on Henderson Land Development every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Henderson Land Development's dividend payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was HK$0.31 in 2010, compared to HK$1.80 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 19% per year over this time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 19% 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? Henderson Land Development's earnings per share have been essentially flat over the past five years. Over the long term, steady earnings per share is a risk as the value of the dividends can be reduced by inflation. 0.1% per annum is not a particularly high rate of growth, which we find curious. When a business is not growing, it often makes more sense to pay higher dividends to shareholders rather than retain the cash with no way to utilise it.

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. Henderson Land Development's payout ratio is within an average range for most market participants. Second, earnings have been essentially flat, and its history of dividend payments is chequered - having cut its dividend at least once in the past. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Henderson Land Development out there.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. To that end, Henderson Land Development has 4 warning signs (and 1 which shouldn't be ignored) we think you should know about.

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.