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What To Know Before Buying Cosmos Machinery Enterprises Limited (HKG:118) For Its Dividend

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll take a closer look at Cosmos Machinery Enterprises Limited (HKG:118) 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.

In this case, Cosmos Machinery Enterprises likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 4.4% dividend yield and eight-year payment history. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Cosmos Machinery Enterprises for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

SEHK:118 Historical Dividend Yield, June 21st 2019

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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Cosmos Machinery Enterprises paid out 21% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. We like this low payout ratio, because it implies the dividend is well covered and leaves ample opportunity for reinvestment.

Is Cosmos Machinery Enterprises's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Cosmos Machinery Enterprises has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick way to check a company's financial situation uses these two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures a company's total debt load relative to its earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the company's ability to pay the interest on its debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Cosmos Machinery Enterprises has net debt of 0.16 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), which is generally seen as an acceptable level of debt.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. Interest cover of less than 5x its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Cosmos Machinery Enterprises, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Cosmos Machinery Enterprises'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. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that Cosmos Machinery Enterprises paid its first dividend at least eight years ago. It's good to see that Cosmos Machinery Enterprises has been paying a dividend for a number of years. However, the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, and we're concerned that what has been cut once, could be cut again. During the past eight-year period, the first annual payment was HK$0.015 in 2011, compared to HK$0.02 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 3.7% a year over that time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 3.7% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

We're glad to see the dividend has risen, but with a limited rate of growth and fluctuations in the payments, we don't think this is an attractive combination.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. Over the past five years, it looks as though Cosmos Machinery Enterprises's EPS have declined at around 9.1% a year. 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.

We'd also point out that Cosmos Machinery Enterprises 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 Cosmos Machinery Enterprises's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that Cosmos Machinery Enterprises has low and conservative payout ratios. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Cosmos Machinery Enterprises from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in Cosmos Machinery Enterprises stock.

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