U.S. Markets close in 3 hrs 25 mins

Key Things To Watch Out For If You Are After Apiam Animal Health Limited's (ASX:AHX) 3.7% Dividend

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at Apiam Animal Health Limited (ASX:AHX) 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. 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.

Apiam Animal Health pays a 3.7% dividend yield, and has been paying dividends for the past three years. A high yield probably looks enticing, but investors are likely wondering about the short payment history. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Apiam Animal Health for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

ASX:AHX Historical Dividend Yield, January 7th 2020

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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. In the last year, Apiam Animal Health paid out 53% of its profit as dividends. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Apiam Animal Health's cash payout ratio in the last year was 50%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business. It's positive to see that Apiam Animal Health's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

Is Apiam Animal Health's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Apiam Animal Health 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 measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Apiam Animal Health has net debt of 2.51 times its EBITDA. Using debt can accelerate business growth, but also increases the risks.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. Apiam Animal Health has EBIT of 5.32 times its interest expense, which we think is adequate.

We update our data on Apiam Animal Health every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. The dividend has not fluctuated much, but with a relatively short payment history, we can't be sure this is sustainable across a full market cycle. Its most recent annual dividend was AU$0.016 per share, effectively flat on its first payment three years ago.

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

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 good to see Apiam Animal Health has been growing its earnings per share at 229% a year over the past three years. Earnings per share are sharply up, but we wonder if paying out more than half its earnings (leaving less for reinvestment) is an implicit signal that Apiam Animal Health's growth will be slower in the future.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Apiam Animal Health's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Apiam Animal Health's payout ratios are within a normal range for the average corporation, and we like that its cashflow was stronger than reported profits. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. Apiam Animal Health has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.

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

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