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Is SAP SE's (ETR:SAP) 1.3% Dividend Worth Your Time?

Simply Wall St

Could SAP SE (ETR:SAP) 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. 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 1.3% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, SAP could have potential. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying SAP for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on SAP!

XTRA:SAP Historical Dividend Yield, October 16th 2019

Payout ratios

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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. SAP paid out 53% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. 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.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. SAP paid out 59% of its free cash flow last year, which is acceptable, but is starting to limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested into the business. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

With a strong net cash balance, SAP investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

We update our data on SAP every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. SAP has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €0.50 in 2009, compared to €1.50 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 12% per year over this time.

Dividends have been growing pretty quickly, and even more impressively, they haven't experienced any notable falls during this period.

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. SAP's earnings per share have been essentially flat over the past five years. 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. Growth of 0.3% is relatively anaemic growth, which we wonder about. When a business is not growing, it often makes more sense to pay higher dividends to shareholders rather than retain the cash with no way to utilise it.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that SAP'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 think SAP is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. Earnings per share have not been growing, but we respect a company that maintains a relatively stable dividend. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about SAP from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 33 SAP analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 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.