Is Jerónimo Martins, SGPS, S.A. (ELI:JMT) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? 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.
A 2.2% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Jerónimo Martins SGPS has some staying power. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. In the last year, Jerónimo Martins SGPS paid out 53% of its profit as dividends. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Jerónimo Martins SGPS paid out a conservative 34% of its free cash flow as dividends last year. It's positive to see that Jerónimo Martins SGPS'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.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Jerónimo Martins SGPS's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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. Jerónimo Martins SGPS has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €0.11 in 2009, compared to €0.33 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 11% per year over this time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 11% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.
Jerónimo Martins SGPS has grown distributions at a rapid rate despite cutting the dividend at least once in the past. Companies that cut once often cut again, but it might be worth considering if the business has turned a corner.
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? Jerónimo Martins SGPS's earnings per share have been essentially flat over the past five years. Flat earnings per share are acceptable for a time, but over the long term, the purchasing power of the company's dividends could be eroded by inflation. Growth of 0.1% is relatively anaemic growth, which we wonder about. 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.
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. First, we think Jerónimo Martins SGPS has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. 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 Jerónimo Martins SGPS out there.
Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 21 Jerónimo Martins SGPS analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.