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Three Things You Should Check Before Buying Brixmor Property Group Inc. (NYSE:BRX) For Its Dividend

Simply Wall St

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Is Brixmor Property Group Inc. (NYSE:BRX) a good dividend stock? How would you know? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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 five-year payment history and a 6.5% yield, many investors probably find Brixmor Property Group intriguing. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 1.7% of market capitalisation this year. 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

NYSE:BRX Historical Dividend Yield, May 31st 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 be form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, Brixmor Property Group paid out 61% of its profit as dividends. This is a fairly normal payout ratio among most businesses. It allows a higher dividend to be paid to shareholders, but does limit the capital retained in the business - which could be good or bad.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Brixmor Property Group paid out 65% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation. It's positive to see that Brixmor Property Group's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

Is Brixmor Property Group's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Brixmor Property Group has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures a company's total debt load relative to its earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the company's ability to pay the interest on its debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Brixmor Property Group has net debt of 6.53 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 2.18 times its interest expense, Brixmor Property Group's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin. High debt and weak interest cover are not a great combo, and we would be cautious of relying on this company's dividend while these metrics persist.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Brixmor Property Group'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. Looking at the data, we can see that Brixmor Property Group has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.80 in 2014, compared to US$1.12 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 7.0% a year over that time.

The dividend has been growing at a reasonable rate, which we like. We're conscious though that one of the best ways to detect a multi-decade consistent dividend payer, is to watch a company pay dividends for 20 years - a distinction Brixmor Property Group has not achieved yet.

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. It's good to see Brixmor Property Group has been growing its earnings per share at 34% a year over the past 5 years. Earnings per share are sharply up, but we wonder if paying out more than half its earnings (leaving less for reinvestment) is an implicit signal that Brixmor Property Group's growth will be slower in the future.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. Brixmor Property Group's is paying out more than half its income as dividends, but at least the dividend is covered by both reported earnings and cashflow. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Brixmor Property Group out there.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 7 Brixmor Property Group analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

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