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What To Know Before Buying Far East Consortium International Limited (HKG:35) For Its Dividend

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at Far East Consortium International Limited (HKG:35) 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. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

With Far East Consortium International yielding 5.8% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Far East Consortium International for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

SEHK:35 Historical Dividend Yield, July 23rd 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. 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 30% of Far East Consortium International's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

Is Far East Consortium International's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Far East Consortium International 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. Far East Consortium International has net debt of 7.95 times its EBITDA, which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

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 4.39 times its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Far East Consortium International, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well. High debt and weak interest cover are not a great combo, and we would be cautious of relying on this company's dividend while these metrics persist.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Far East Consortium International'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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Far East Consortium International's dividend payments. Its dividend payments have fallen by 20% or more on at least one occasion over the past ten years. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was HK$0.11 in 2009, compared to HK$0.22 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 7.2% 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.

It's good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Far East Consortium International might have put its house in order since then, but we remain cautious.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing - it's not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. Far East Consortium International has grown its earnings per share at 7.8% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing at a credible rate. What's more, the payout ratio is reasonable and provides some protection to the dividend, or even the potential to increase it.

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. Firstly, we like that Far East Consortium International has low and conservative payout ratios. Second, earnings growth has been ordinary, and its history of dividend payments is chequered - having cut its dividend at least once in the past. Overall we think Far East Consortium International is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in Far East Consortium International 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.