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Here's How We Evaluate Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries S.A.'s (ATH:MOH) Dividend

Simply Wall St

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Is Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries S.A. (ATH:MOH) a good dividend stock? How would you know? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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 a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

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ATSE:MOH Historical Dividend Yield, June 17th 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries paid out 45% 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. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries paid out 76% of its cash flow last year. This may be sustainable but it does not leave much of a buffer for unexpected circumstances. It's positive to see that Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

We update our data on Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. The first recorded dividend for Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries, in the last decade, was nine years ago. It's good to see that Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries has been paying a dividend for a number of years. However, the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, and we're concerned that what has been cut once, could be cut again. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was €0.70 in 2010, compared to €1.30 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 7.1% a year over that time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.

It's good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries might have put its house in order since then, but we remain cautious.

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? It's good to see Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries has been growing its earnings per share at 41% a year over the past 5 years. With high earnings per share growth in recent times and a modest payout ratio, we think this is an attractive combination if earnings can be reinvested to generate further growth.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries's dividend payout ratios are within normal bounds, although we note its cash flow is not as strong as the income statement would suggest. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Overall we think Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 7 analysts we track are forecasting for Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

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