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Are You An Income Investor? Don't Miss Out On Middlefield Banc Corp. (NASDAQ:MBCN)

Simply Wall St

Could Middlefield Banc Corp. (NASDAQ:MBCN) 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 slim 2.4% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Middlefield Banc could have potential. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 1.0% of its market capitalisation. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Middlefield Banc for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NasdaqCM:MBCN Historical Dividend Yield, February 17th 2020

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. Middlefield Banc paid out 29% 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 update our data on Middlefield Banc every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, 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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Middlefield Banc's dividend payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.52 in 2010, compared to US$0.60 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 1.4% per year over this time.

Dividends have grown relatively slowly, which is not great, but some investors may value the relative consistency of the dividend.

Dividend Growth Potential

Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Earnings have grown at around 2.2% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! Middlefield Banc is paying out less than half of its earnings, which we like. However, earnings per share are unfortunately not growing much. Might this suggest that the company should pay a higher dividend instead?

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Middlefield Banc's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that Middlefield Banc has a low and conservative payout ratio. Second, earnings growth has been mediocre, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. Middlefield Banc has a number of positive attributes, but falls short of our ideal dividend company. It may be worth a look at the right price, though.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Middlefield Banc in our latest insider ownership analysis.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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.