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Is JMP Group LLC (NYSE:JMP) A Good Dividend Stock?

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Could JMP Group LLC (NYSE:JMP) 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. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for JMP Group. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 4.3% 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.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:JMP Historical Dividend Yield, July 22nd 2019
NYSE:JMP Historical Dividend Yield, July 22nd 2019

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. 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, JMP Group paid out 210% of its profit as dividends. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, from the perspective of an investor who hopes to own the company for many years, a payout ratio of above 100% is definitely a concern.

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

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of JMP Group's dividend payments. The dividend has been cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.20 in 2009, compared to US$0.16 last year. This works out to be a decline of approximately 2.2% per year over that time. JMP Group's dividend has been cut sharply at least once, so it hasn't fallen by 2.2% every year, but this is a decent approximation of the long term change.

We struggle to make a case for buying JMP Group for its dividend, given that payments have shrunk over the past ten years.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there's a good chance of bigger dividends in future? In the last five years, JMP Group's earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 2.0% per annum. 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

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. JMP Group is paying out a larger percentage of its profit than we're comfortable with. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. From a dividend perspective, this is a cause for concern. Using these criteria, JMP Group looks suboptimal from a dividend investment perspective.

Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on JMP Group management tenure, salary, and performance.

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.