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Something To Consider Before Buying CSP Inc. (NASDAQ:CSPI) For The 4.5% Dividend

Simply Wall St

Could CSP Inc. (NASDAQ:CSPI) 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 the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

In this case, CSP likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 4.5% dividend yield and eight-year payment history. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on CSP!

NasdaqGM:CSPI Historical Dividend Yield, August 20th 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, 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. Although it reported a loss over the past 12 months, CSP currently pays a dividend. When a company is loss-making, we next need to check to see if its cash flows can support the dividend.

Last year, CSP paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.

With a strong net cash balance, CSP investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

We update our data on CSP every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

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. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that CSP paid its first dividend at least eight years ago. The company has been paying a stable dividend for a while now, which is great. However we'd prefer to see consistency for a few more years before giving it our full seal of approval. During the past eight-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.10 in 2011, compared to US$0.60 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 25% 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

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. CSP's EPS have fallen by approximately 29% per year. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that CSP'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 CSP paying a dividend while loss-making, especially since the dividend was also not well covered by free cash flow. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any earnings growth, and the company's dividend history has been too short for us to evaluate the consistency of the dividend. In this analysis, CSP doesn't shape up too well as a dividend stock. We'd find it hard to look past the flaws, and would not be inclined to think of it as a reliable dividend-payer.

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

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.