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Here's How We Evaluate Siltronic AG's (ETR:WAF) Dividend

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Simply Wall St
·5 min read
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Is Siltronic AG (ETR:WAF) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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, Siltronic pays a decent-sized 3.7% dividend yield, and has been distributing cash to shareholders for the past two years. A high yield probably looks enticing, but investors are likely wondering about the short payment history. 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 Siltronic!

XTRA:WAF Historical Dividend Yield May 1st 2020
XTRA:WAF Historical Dividend Yield May 1st 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 40% of Siltronic's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. 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. Siltronic paid out 413% of its free cash flow last year, suggesting the dividend is poorly covered by cash flow. Paying out more than 100% of your free cash flow in dividends is generally not a long-term, sustainable state of affairs, so we think shareholders should watch this metric closely. While Siltronic's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, free cash flow is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Cash is king, as they say, and were Siltronic to repeatedly pay dividends that aren't well covered by cashflow, we would consider this a warning sign.

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

Consider getting our latest analysis on Siltronic's financial position 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. It has only been paying dividends for a few short years, and the dividend has already been cut at least once. This is one income stream we're not ready to live on. During the past two-year period, the first annual payment was €2.50 in 2018, compared to €3.00 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 9.5% a year over that time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 9.5% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

It's good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Siltronic 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 evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing - it's not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. It's good to see Siltronic has been growing its earnings per share at 62% a year over the past five years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.

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, the company has a conservative payout ratio, although we'd note that its cashflow in the past year was substantially lower than its reported profit. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Siltronic from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. For example, we've identified 5 warning signs for Siltronic (2 make us uncomfortable!) that you should be aware of before investing.

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.