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Today we'll take a closer look at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ASX:ANZ) 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. 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.
A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 2.5% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.
Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. In the last year, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group paid out 71% of its profit as dividends. This is a fairly normal payout ratio among most businesses. It allows a higher dividend to be paid to shareholders, but does limit the capital retained in the business - which could be good or bad.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group's dividend payments. The dividend has been cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was AU$1.02 in 2009, compared to AU$1.60 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 4.6% a year over that time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 4.6% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.
We're glad to see the dividend has risen, but with a limited rate of growth and fluctuations in the payments, we don't think this is an attractive combination.
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. While there may be fluctuations in the past , Australia and New Zealand Banking Group's earnings per share have basically not grown from where they were five years ago. Flat earnings per share are acceptable for a time, but over the long term, the purchasing power of the company's dividends could be eroded by inflation.
Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company's dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group's payout ratio is within normal bounds. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. From a dividend perspective, this is a cause for concern. With this information in mind, we think Australia and New Zealand Banking Group may not be an ideal dividend stock.
Without at least some growth in earnings per share over time, the dividend will eventually come under pressure either from costs or inflation. Businesses can change though, and we think it would make sense to see what analysts are forecasting for the company.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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 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. Thank you for reading.