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Is International Personal Finance plc (LON:IPF) A Smart Pick For Income Investors?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at International Personal Finance plc (LON:IPF) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

With International Personal Finance yielding 8.4% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. That said, the recent jump in the share price will make International Personal Finance's dividend yield look smaller, even though the company prospects could be improving. 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 International Personal Finance!

LSE:IPF Historical Dividend Yield, November 13th 2019

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. International Personal Finance paid out 39% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of International Personal Finance's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. International Personal Finance has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was UK£0.057 in 2009, compared to UK£0.12 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 8.1% a year over that time.

Businesses that can grow their dividends at a decent rate and maintain a stable payout can generate substantial wealth for shareholders over the long term.

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. It's not great to see that International Personal Finance's have fallen at approximately 4.0% over the past five years. A modest decline in earnings per share is not great to see, but it doesn't automatically make a dividend unsustainable. Still, we'd vastly prefer to see EPS growth when researching dividend stocks.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. We're glad to see International Personal Finance has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. Second, earnings per share have actually shrunk, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. International Personal Finance might not be a bad business, but it doesn't show all of the characteristics we look for in a dividend stock.

Without at least some growth in earnings per share over time, the dividend will eventually come under pressure either from costs or inflation. Businesses can change though, and we think it would make sense to see what analysts are forecasting 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%.

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 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. Thank you for reading.