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Read This Before Buying LSI Industries Inc. (NASDAQ:LYTS) For Its Dividend

Simply Wall St

Could LSI Industries Inc. (NASDAQ:LYTS) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the 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.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for LSI Industries. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. That said, the recent jump in the share price will make LSI Industries's dividend yield look smaller, even though the company prospects could be improving. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on LSI Industries!

NasdaqGS:LYTS Historical Dividend Yield, October 28th 2019

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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. Although LSI Industries pays a dividend, it was loss-making during the past year. When a company is loss-making, we next need to check to see if its cash flows can support the dividend.

LSI Industries paid out 58% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation.

Is LSI Industries's Balance Sheet Risky?

Given LSI Industries 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. With net debt of 2.71 times its EBITDA, LSI Industries has a noticeable amount of debt, although if business stays steady, this may not be overly concerning.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. Interest cover of 1.80 times its interest expense is starting to become a concern for LSI Industries, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well.

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

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. LSI Industries has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. Its most recent annual dividend was US$0.20 per share, effectively flat on its first payment ten years ago.

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

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. LSI Industries's EPS have fallen by approximately 58% per year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and LSI Industries's earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

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 not keen on the fact that LSI Industries paid dividends despite reporting a loss over the past year, although fortunately its dividend was covered by cash flow. 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. In this analysis, LSI Industries 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.

You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in LSI Industries stock.

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 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. Thank you for reading.