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Why Griffin Industrial Realty, Inc. (NASDAQ:GRIF) Is A Top Dividend Stock

Simply Wall St

Could Griffin Industrial Realty, Inc. (NASDAQ:GRIF) 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. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.

A slim 1.2% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Griffin Industrial Realty could have potential. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Griffin Industrial Realty for its dividend - read on to learn more.

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NasdaqGM:GRIF Historical Dividend Yield, January 15th 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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Looking at the data, we can see that 37% of Griffin Industrial Realty's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. 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.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Griffin Industrial Realty's cash payout ratio last year was 23%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. It's positive to see that Griffin Industrial Realty'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 Griffin Industrial Realty's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Griffin Industrial Realty 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 total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Griffin Industrial Realty has net debt of 6.24 times its EBITDA, which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 2.05 times its interest expense, Griffin Industrial Realty'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 Griffin Industrial Realty's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. Griffin Industrial Realty has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.40 in 2010, compared to US$0.50 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 2.3% a year over that time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.

Modest growth in the dividend is good to see, but we think this is offset by historical cuts to the payments. It is hard to live on a dividend income if the company's earnings are not consistent.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. It's good to see Griffin Industrial Realty has been growing its earnings per share at 27% a year over the past five years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.

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. Firstly, we like that Griffin Industrial Realty has low and conservative payout ratios. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Overall we think Griffin Industrial Realty scores well on our analysis. It's not quite perfect, but we'd definitely be keen to take a closer look.

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

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 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.