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Do Investors Have Good Reason To Be Wary Of Intron Technology Holdings Limited's (HKG:1760) 2.4% Dividend Yield?

Simply Wall St

Is Intron Technology Holdings Limited (HKG:1760) 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.

Intron Technology Holdings has only been paying a dividend for a year or so, so investors might be curious about its 2.4% yield. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Intron Technology Holdings for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

SEHK:1760 Historical Dividend Yield, March 18th 2020

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. In the last year, Intron Technology Holdings paid out 32% of its profit as dividends. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Last year, Intron Technology Holdings paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Intron Technology Holdings's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Intron Technology Holdings'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. 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 dividends have grown at less than 1% per annum over this time frame.

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. Intron Technology Holdings's earnings per share are down -23% over the past year. While this is not ideal, one year is a short time in business, and we wouldn't want to get too hung up on this. Any one year of performance can be misleading for a variety of reasons, so we wouldn't like to form any strong conclusions based on these numbers alone.

We'd also point out that Intron Technology Holdings issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Trying to grow the dividend when issuing new shares reminds us of the ancient Greek tale of Sisyphus - perpetually pushing a boulder uphill. Companies that consistently issue new shares are often suboptimal from a dividend perspective.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Intron Technology Holdings's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Intron Technology Holdings has a low payout ratio, which we like, although it paid out virtually all of its generated cash. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has a relatively short dividend history - shorter than we like, anyway. Overall, Intron Technology Holdings falls short in several key areas here. Unless the investor has strong grounds for an alternative conclusion, we find it hard to get interested in a dividend stock with these characteristics.

Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. To that end, Intron Technology Holdings has 4 warning signs (and 2 which are a bit unpleasant) we think you should know about.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 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.