Today we'll take a closer look at Martinrea International Inc. (TSE:MRE) 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. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.
Investors might not know much about Martinrea International's dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last seven years and offers a 1.5% yield. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 5.3% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Martinrea International for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.
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. In the last year, Martinrea International paid out 9.0% of its profit as dividends. We like this low payout ratio, because it implies the dividend is well covered and leaves ample opportunity for reinvestment.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Martinrea International paid out a conservative 33% of its free cash flow as dividends last year. It's positive to see that Martinrea International'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.
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 data, we can see that Martinrea International has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. Its dividend has not fluctuated much that time, which we like, but we're conscious that the company might not yet have a track record of maintaining dividends in all economic conditions. During the past seven-year period, the first annual payment was CA$0.12 in 2012, compared to CA$0.18 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 6.0% a year over that time.
Martinrea International has been growing its dividend at a decent rate, and the payments have been stable despite the short payment history. This is a positive start.
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 Martinrea International has been growing its earnings per share at 58% a year over the past five years. The company is only paying out a fraction of its earnings as dividends, and in the past been able to use the retained earnings to grow its profits rapidly - an ideal combination.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Martinrea International's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we like that the company's dividend payments appear well covered, although the retained capital also needs to be effectively reinvested. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. Overall we think Martinrea International scores well on our analysis. It's not quite perfect, but we'd definitely be keen to take a closer look.
Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 7 Martinrea International analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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