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Investors In Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke AG (FRA:SSH) Should Consider This, First

Simply Wall St

Is Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke AG (FRA:SSH) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

While Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke's 2.3% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

DB:SSH Historical Dividend Yield, September 10th 2019

Payout ratios

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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Looking at the data, we can see that 60% of Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A payout ratio above 50% generally implies a business is reaching maturity, although it is still possible to reinvest in the business or increase the dividend over time.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke paid out 151% of its free cash last year. Cash flows can be lumpy, but this dividend was not well covered by cash flow. Paying out more than 100% of your free cash flow in dividends is generally not a long-term, sustainable state of affairs, so we think shareholders should watch this metric closely. Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn't generate enough free cash flow to cover the dividend. Cash is king, as they say, and were Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke to repeatedly pay dividends that aren't well covered by cashflow, we would consider this a warning sign.

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

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. Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke 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 €0.45 in 2009, compared to €1.60 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 14% a year over that time.

Dividends have been growing pretty quickly, and even more impressively, they haven't experienced any notable falls during this period.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend's purchasing power over the long term. It's not great to see that Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke's have fallen at approximately 6.5% over the past five years. 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.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we think Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke has an acceptable payout ratio, although its dividend was not well covered by cashflow. It hasn't demonstrated a strong ability to grow earnings per share, but we like that the dividend payments have been fairly consistent. With this information in mind, we think Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke may not be an ideal dividend stock.

You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in Südwestdeutsche Salzwerke stock.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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.