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Is PNM Resources, Inc. (NYSE:PNM) A Strong Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at PNM Resources, Inc. (NYSE:PNM) 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 the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

A slim 2.3% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, PNM Resources could have potential. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying PNM Resources for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:PNM Historical Dividend Yield, February 11th 2020

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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. While PNM Resources pays a dividend, it reported a loss over the last year. When a company recently reported a loss, we should investigate if its cash flows covered the dividend.

Unfortunately, while PNM Resources pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it's not ideal from a dividend perspective.

Is PNM Resources's Balance Sheet Risky?

Given PNM Resources is paying a dividend but reported a loss over the past year, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. 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. PNM Resources has net debt of 8.68 times its EBITDA, which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. PNM Resources has interest cover of less than 1 - which suggests its earnings are not high enough to cover even the interest payments on its debt. This is potentially quite serious, and we would likely avoid the stock if it were not resolved quickly. Low interest cover and high debt can create problems right when the investor least needs them, and we're reluctant to rely on the dividend of companies with these traits.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of PNM Resources'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. PNM Resources has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.50 in 2010, compared to US$1.23 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 9.4% a year over that time.

Businesses that can grow their dividends at a decent rate and maintain a stable payout can generate substantial wealth for shareholders over the long term.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend's purchasing power over the long term. PNM Resources's earnings per share have shrunk at 13% a year over the past five years. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.

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. We're a bit uncomfortable with PNM Resources paying a dividend while loss-making, especially since the dividend was also not well covered by free cash flow. Second, earnings per share have actually shrunk, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. In this analysis, PNM Resources doesn't shape up too well as a dividend stock. We'd find it hard to look past the flaws, and would not be inclined to think of it as a reliable dividend-payer.

Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. See if the 6 analysts are forecasting a turnaround in our free collection of analyst estimates here.

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 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.