U.S. Markets open in 4 hrs 49 mins

Is JSW Steel Limited (NSE:JSWSTEEL) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at JSW Steel Limited (NSE:JSWSTEEL) 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 stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

While JSW Steel's 1.9% 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 JSW Steel for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on JSW Steel!

NSEI:JSWSTEEL 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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 16% of JSW Steel's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. JSW Steel paid out 21% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservative and suggests the dividend is sustainable. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

Is JSW Steel's Balance Sheet Risky?

As JSW Steel has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company's total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments. Essentially we check that a) the company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. With net debt of 2.20 times its EBITDA, JSW Steel's debt burden is within a normal range for most listed companies.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 3.90 times its interest expense, JSW Steel's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin.

Consider getting our latest analysis on JSW Steel's financial position here.

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 JSW Steel's dividend payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was ₹0.10 in 2009, compared to ₹4.10 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 45% a year over that time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.

So, its dividends have grown at a rapid rate over this time, but payments have been cut in the past. The stock may still be worth considering as part of a diversified dividend portfolio.

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? It's good to see JSW Steel has been growing its earnings per share at 72% a year over the past 5 years. Earnings per share have grown rapidly, and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings. We think this is ideal from an investment perspective, if the company is able to reinvest these earnings effectively.

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. It's great to see that JSW Steel is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings per share growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. JSW Steel performs highly under this analysis, although it falls slightly short of our exacting standards. At the right valuation, it could be a solid dividend prospect.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 23 JSW Steel analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

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