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Should You Or Shouldn't You: A Dividend Analysis on Prima Industrie SpA (BIT:PRI)

Simply Wall St

Could Prima Industrie SpA (BIT:PRI) 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. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

With a 2.7% yield and a five-year payment history, investors probably think Prima Industrie looks like a reliable dividend stock. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. Remember though, due to the recent spike in its share price, Prima Industrie's yield will look lower, even though the market may now be factoring in an improvement in its long-term prospects. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Prima Industrie!

BIT:PRI Historical Dividend Yield, January 10th 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. Prima Industrie paid out 34% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Unfortunately, while Prima Industrie 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 Prima Industrie's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Prima Industrie has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. 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. Prima Industrie has net debt of 3.82 times its EBITDA, which is getting towards the limit of most investors' comfort zones. Judicious use of debt can enhance shareholder returns, but also adds to the risk if something goes awry.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. Prima Industrie has EBIT of 6.34 times its interest expense, which we think is adequate.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Prima Industrie's financial position here.

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. Looking at the data, we can see that Prima Industrie has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was €0.20 in 2015, compared to €0.44 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 17% per year over this time.

The dividend has been growing pretty quickly, which could be enough to get us interested even though the dividend history is relatively short. Further research may be warranted.

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. It's good to see Prima Industrie has been growing its earnings per share at 16% a year over the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing at a good rate, and the company is paying less than half its earnings as dividends. We generally think this is an attractive combination, as it permits further reinvestment in the business.

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. Prima Industrie has a low payout ratio, which we like, although it paid out virtually all of its generated cash. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Prima Industrie out there.

Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on Prima Industrie management tenure, salary, and performance.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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.