U.S. Markets open in 6 hrs 21 mins

Is Sinosoft Technology Group Limited (HKG:1297) A Smart Pick For Income Investors?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at Sinosoft Technology Group Limited (HKG:1297) 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. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.

With a 1.4% yield and a five-year payment history, investors probably think Sinosoft Technology Group looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 1.4% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

SEHK:1297 Historical Dividend Yield, November 8th 2019

Payout ratios

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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Sinosoft Technology Group paid out 9.8% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Sinosoft Technology Group paid out 78% of its cash flow last year. This may be sustainable but it does not leave much of a buffer for unexpected circumstances. 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.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Sinosoft Technology Group's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

We update our data on Sinosoft Technology Group 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. Looking at the data, we can see that Sinosoft Technology Group has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was CN¥0.013 in 2014, compared to CN¥0.02 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 9.9% a year over that time. Sinosoft Technology Group's dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn't grown 9.9% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.

It's good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Sinosoft Technology Group might have put its house in order since then, but we remain cautious.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there's a good chance of bigger dividends in future? It's good to see Sinosoft Technology Group has been growing its earnings per share at 16% a year over the past five years. Rapid earnings growth and a low payout ratio suggests this company has been effectively reinvesting in its business. Should that continue, this company could have a bright future.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Sinosoft Technology Group's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that Sinosoft Technology Group pays out a low fraction of earnings. It pays out a higher percentage of its cashflow, although this is within acceptable bounds. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Sinosoft Technology Group has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 3 analysts we track are forecasting for Sinosoft Technology Group 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%.

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.