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Could Tennant Company (NYSE:TNC) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.
A 1.5% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Tennant has some staying power. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.
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. Tennant paid out 44% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. 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.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. The company paid out 62% of its free cash flow, which is not bad per se, but does start to limit the amount of cash Tennant has available to meet other needs. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.
Is Tennant's Balance Sheet Risky?
As Tennant has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company's total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments. Essentially we check that a) the company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Tennant has net debt of 2.51 times its EBITDA. Using debt can accelerate business growth, but also increases the risks.
We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 3.60 times its interest expense, Tennant's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin.
Consider getting our latest analysis on Tennant's financial position here.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Tennant's dividend payments. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.52 in 2009, compared to US$0.88 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 5.4% per year over this time.
Companies like this, growing their dividend at a decent rate, can be very valuable over the long term, if the rate of growth can be maintained.
Dividend Growth Potential
The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient's purchasing power. In the last five years, Tennant's earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 2.1% per annum. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company's dividend.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Tennant's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Tennant's dividend payout ratios are within normal bounds, although we note its cash flow is not as strong as the income statement would suggest. Second, earnings per share have actually shrunk, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Tennant out there.
You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in Tennant stock.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding 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 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.