It looks like Tecnoglass Inc. (NASDAQ:TGLS) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 30th of July will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 30th of August.
Tecnoglass's upcoming dividend is US$0.14 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.56 per share to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Tecnoglass has a trailing yield of 7.7% on the current stock price of $7.3. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. As a result, readers should always check whether Tecnoglass has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. Last year, Tecnoglass paid out 373% of its profit to shareholders in the form of dividends. This is not sustainable behaviour and requires a closer look on behalf of the purchaser. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend.
Tecnoglass paid a dividend despite reporting negative free cash flow last year. That's typically a bad combination and - if this were more than a one-off - not sustainable.
It's disappointing to see that the dividend was not covered by profits, but cash is more important from a dividend sustainability perspective, and Tecnoglass fortunately did generate enough cash to fund its dividend. If executives were to continue paying more in dividends than the company reported in profits, we'd view this as a warning sign. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Tecnoglass's earnings have collapsed faster than Wile E Coyote's schemes to trap the Road Runner; down a tremendous 34% a year over the past five years.
We'd also point out that Tecnoglass issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. It's hard to grow dividends per share when a company keeps creating new shares.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Tecnoglass has delivered 3.8% dividend growth per year on average over the past 3 years. The only way to pay higher dividends when earnings are shrinking is either to pay out a larger percentage of profits, spend cash from the balance sheet, or borrow the money. Tecnoglass is already paying out 373% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.
The Bottom Line
Is Tecnoglass worth buying for its dividend? Not only are earnings per share declining, but Tecnoglass is paying out an uncomfortably high percentage of both its earnings and cashflow to shareholders as dividends. This is a starkly negative combination that often suggests a dividend cut could be in the company's near future. Overall it doesn't look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.
Ever wonder what the future holds for Tecnoglass? See what the five analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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