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Could SEB SA (EPA:SK) 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 1.3% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, SEB could have potential. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.
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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 25% of SEB'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. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. SEB's cash payout ratio last year was 20%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.
Consider getting our latest analysis on SEB's financial position here.
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. SEB has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €0.94 in 2009, compared to €2.14 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 8.6% per year over this time.
Dividends have grown at a reasonable rate over this period, and without any major cuts in the payment over time, we think this is an attractive combination.
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 SEB has been growing its earnings per share at 15% a year over the past 5 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.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that SEB's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. It's great to see that SEB is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. We like that it has been delivering solid improvement in its earnings per share, and relatively consistent dividend payments. All these things considered, we think this organisation has a lot going for it from a dividend perspective.
Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 11 analysts we track are forecasting for SEB for free with public analyst estimates for the company.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding 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 email@example.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.