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Is SIG Combibloc Group AG (VTX:SIGN) An Attractive Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Is SIG Combibloc Group AG (VTX:SIGN) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.

Some readers mightn't know much about SIG Combibloc Group's 2.2% dividend, as it has only been paying distributions for a year or so. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding SIG Combibloc Group for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on SIG Combibloc Group!

SWX:SIGN Historical Dividend Yield, January 14th 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. 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. While SIG Combibloc Group 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.

SIG Combibloc Group paid out 112% of its free cash flow last year, suggesting the dividend is poorly covered by cash flow.

Is SIG Combibloc Group's Balance Sheet Risky?

Given SIG Combibloc Group 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 measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With net debt of 3.47 times its EBITDA, investors are starting to take on a meaningful amount of risk, should the business enter a downturn.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 2.19 times its interest expense, SIG Combibloc Group's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of SIG Combibloc Group'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. With a payment history of less than 2 years, we think it's a bit too soon to think about living on the income from its dividend. Its most recent annual dividend was €0.31 per share.

Modest dividend growth is good to see, especially with the payments being relatively stable. However, the payment history is relatively short and we wouldn't want to rely on this dividend too much.

Dividend Growth Potential

Examining whether the dividend is affordable and stable is important. However, it's also important to assess if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient's purchasing power. SIG Combibloc Group has grown its EPS 91% over the past 12 months. We're glad to see EPS up on last year, but we're conscious that growth rates typically slow as companies increase in size. Any one year of performance can be misleading for a variety of reasons, so we wouldn't like to form any strong conclusions based on these numbers alone.

We'd also point out that SIG Combibloc Group issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental - it's hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that SIG Combibloc Group's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We're a bit uncomfortable with SIG Combibloc Group paying a dividend while loss-making, especially since the dividend was also not well covered by free cash flow. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. Overall, SIG Combibloc Group falls short in several key areas here. Unless the investor has strong grounds for an alternative conclusion, we find it hard to get interested in a dividend stock with these characteristics.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 10 SIG Combibloc Group analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

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.