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Something To Consider Before Buying Fleury Michon SA (EPA:FLE) For The 3.8% Dividend

Simply Wall St

Could Fleury Michon SA (EPA:FLE) 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. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

In this case, Fleury Michon likely looks attractive to investors, given its 3.8% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Fleury Michon for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Fleury Michon!

ENXTPA:FLE Historical Dividend Yield, January 1st 2020

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. 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, Fleury Michon 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.

Unfortunately, while Fleury Michon pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it's not ideal from a dividend perspective.

Is Fleury Michon's Balance Sheet Risky?

Given Fleury Michon 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 is a measure of a company's total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments. Essentially we check that a) the company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Fleury Michon is carrying net debt of 3.07 times its EBITDA, which is getting towards the upper limit of our comfort range on a dividend stock that the investor hopes will endure a wide range of economic circumstances.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 4.39 times its interest expense, Fleury Michon's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Fleury Michon's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Fleury Michon's dividend 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 €0.53 in 2010, compared to €1.20 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 8.5% a year over that time.

Businesses that can grow their dividends at a decent rate and maintain a stable payout can generate substantial wealth for shareholders over the long term.

Dividend Growth Potential

Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Fleury Michon's EPS have fallen by approximately 18% per year during the past five years. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Fleury Michon's earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

Conclusion

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. We're a bit uncomfortable with Fleury Michon paying a dividend while loss-making, especially since the dividend was also not well covered by free cash flow. Moreover, earnings have been shrinking. While the dividends have been fairly steady, we'd wonder for how much longer this will be sustainable if earnings continue to decline. There are a few too many issues for us to get comfortable with Fleury Michon from a dividend perspective. Businesses can change, but we would struggle to identify why an investor should rely on this stock for their income.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Fleury Michon in our latest insider ownership analysis.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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.