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Know This Before Buying Public Joint Stock Company ALROSA (MCX:ALRS) For Its Dividend

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Public Joint Stock Company ALROSA (MCX:ALRS) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. 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.

In this case, ALROSA likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 9.4% dividend yield and eight-year payment history. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding ALROSA for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

MISX:ALRS Historical Dividend Yield, December 19th 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. ALROSA paid out 100% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Its payout ratio is quite high, and the dividend is not well covered by earnings. If earnings are growing or the company has a large cash balance, this might be sustainable - still, we think it is a concern.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. With a cash payout ratio of 193%, ALROSA's dividend payments are poorly covered by cash flow. Paying out such a high percentage of cash flow suggests that the dividend was funded from either cash at bank or by borrowing, neither of which is desirable over the long term. Cash is slightly more important than profit from a dividend perspective, but given ALROSA's payments were not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we are concerned about the sustainability of this dividend.

Is ALROSA's Balance Sheet Risky?

As ALROSA's dividend was not well covered by earnings, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) 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 0.60 times its EBITDA, ALROSA has an acceptable level of debt.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. ALROSA has EBIT of 11.41 times its interest expense, which we think is adequate.

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

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. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that ALROSA paid its first dividend at least eight years ago. It's good to see that ALROSA 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 ₽1.01 in 2011, compared to ₽7.68 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 29% a year over that time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 29% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

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

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. It's good to see ALROSA has been growing its earnings per share at 13% a year over the past five years. Although earnings per share are up nicely ALROSA is paying out 100% of its earnings as dividends, which we feel is borderline unsustainable without extenuating circumstances.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that ALROSA's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. It's a concern to see that the company paid out such a high percentage of its earnings and cashflow as dividends. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In summary, ALROSA has a number of shortcomings that we'd find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are a number of better ideas out there.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 12 analysts we track are forecasting for ALROSA for free with public 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%.

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.