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Is Southwest Georgia Financial Corporation (NYSEMKT:SGB) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll take a closer look at Southwest Georgia Financial Corporation (NYSEMKT:SGB) 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.

Investors might not know much about Southwest Georgia Financial's dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last nine years and offers a 2.4% yield. A low yield is generally a turn-off, but if the prospects for earnings growth were strong, investors might be pleasantly surprised by the long-term results. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 0.6% of market capitalisation this year. 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 Southwest Georgia Financial!

AMEX:SGB Historical Dividend Yield, June 12th 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. 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. Southwest Georgia Financial paid out 26% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

We update our data on Southwest Georgia Financial 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 Southwest Georgia Financial paid its first dividend at least nine 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 nine-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.10 in 2010, compared to US$0.48 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 19% a year over that time.

We're not overly excited about the relatively short history of dividend payments, however the dividend is growing at a nice rate and we might take a closer look.

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. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Southwest Georgia Financial has grown its earnings per share at 11% per annum over the past five years. A company paying out less than a quarter of its earnings as dividends, and growing earnings at more than 10% per annum, looks to be right in the cusp of its growth phase. At the right price, we might be interested.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Southwest Georgia Financial'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 glad to see Southwest Georgia Financial has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. Southwest Georgia Financial has a number of positive attributes, but falls short of our ideal dividend company. It may be worth a look at the right price, though.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Southwest Georgia Financial in our latest insider ownership analysis.

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.