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Slate Retail REIT (TSE:SRT.UN) Investors Should Think About This Before Buying It For Its Dividend

Simply Wall St

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Could Slate Retail REIT (TSE:SRT.UN) 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 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 a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if Slate Retail REIT is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 6.7% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. 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.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

TSX:SRT.UN Historical Dividend Yield, July 17th 2019

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. Although Slate Retail REIT pays a dividend, it was loss-making during the past year. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.

Slate Retail REIT paid out 73% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation.

It is worth considering that Slate Retail REIT is a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). REITs have different rules governing their payments, and are often required to pay out a high portion of their earnings to investors.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Slate Retail REIT'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 Slate Retail REIT has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.72 in 2014, compared to US$0.85 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 3.5% per year over this time.

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

The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether 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. In the last five years, Slate Retail REIT's earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 12% per annum. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company's dividend.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Slate Retail REIT'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 Slate Retail REIT is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has a relatively short dividend history - shorter than we like, anyway. In summary, Slate Retail REIT has a number of shortcomings that we'd find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are a number of better ideas out there.

Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. See if the 3 analysts are forecasting a turnaround in our free collection of analyst estimates here.

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.