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Here's How We Evaluate China Star Entertainment Limited's (HKG:326) Dividend

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at China Star Entertainment Limited (HKG:326) 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. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend 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 China Star Entertainment. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. That said, the recent jump in the share price will make China Star Entertainment's dividend yield look smaller, even though the company prospects could be improving. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on China Star Entertainment!

SEHK:326 Historical Dividend Yield, December 6th 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. Although it reported a loss over the past 12 months, China Star Entertainment currently pays a dividend. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note China Star Entertainment's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

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

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. China Star Entertainment has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was HK$5.00 in 2009, compared to HK$0.13 last year. Dividend payments have fallen sharply, down 98% over that time.

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

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that dividend payments have been shrinking like a glacier in a warming world, we need to check if there are some bright spots on the horizon. China Star Entertainment's EPS have fallen by approximately 54% per year during the past five years. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.

We'd also point out that China Star Entertainment issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental - it's hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.

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 China Star Entertainment has a low and conservative payout ratio. 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. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than China Star Entertainment out there.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in China Star Entertainment in our latest insider ownership analysis.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 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.