Is GeoPark Limited (NYSE:GPRK) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.
The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 6.4% of market capitalisation this year. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.
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. 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. Looking at the data, we can see that of GeoPark's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. 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.
Consider getting our latest analysis on GeoPark'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. With a payment history of less than 2 years, we think it's a bit too soon to think about living on the income from its dividend. Its most recent annual dividend was US$0.17 per share.
Modest dividend growth is good to see, especially with the payments being relatively stable. However, the payment history is relatively short and we wouldn't want to rely on this dividend too much.
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. It's good to see GeoPark has been growing its earnings per share at 24% a year over the past five years.
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. We're glad to see GeoPark has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. GeoPark fits all of our criteria, and we think there are a lot of positives to it from a dividend perspective.
Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 4 analysts we track are forecasting for GeoPark for free with public 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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