Today we'll take a closer look at Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX:S68) 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. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.
With Singapore Exchange yielding 3.3% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.
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. 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. In the last year, Singapore Exchange paid out 77% of its profit as dividends. It's paying out most of its earnings, which limits the amount that can be reinvested in the business. This may indicate limited need for further capital within the business, or highlight a commitment to paying a dividend.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Singapore Exchange's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. Singapore Exchange 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 S$0.26 in 2009, compared to S$0.30 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 1.4% a year over that time.
While the consistency in the dividend payments is impressive, we think the relatively slow rate of growth is unappealing.
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. Singapore Exchange has grown its earnings per share at 5.3% per annum over the past five years. Past earnings growth has been decent, but unless this is one of those rare businesses that can grow without additional capital investment or marketing spend, we'd generally expect the higher payout ratio to limit its future growth prospects.
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. Singapore Exchange's payout ratio is within normal bounds. Earnings growth has been limited, but we like that the dividend payments have been fairly consistent. Singapore Exchange might not be a bad business, but it doesn't show all of the characteristics we look for in a dividend stock.
Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 13 analysts we track are forecasting for Singapore Exchange for free with public 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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