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Zooming in on ASX:BWR's 5.5% Dividend Yield

Simply Wall St

Is Blackwall Property Trust (ASX:BWR) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

With a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if Blackwall Property Trust is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Blackwall Property Trust for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

ASX:BWR Historical Dividend Yield, September 4th 2019
ASX:BWR Historical Dividend Yield, September 4th 2019

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. 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. Blackwall Property Trust paid out 92% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. It's paying out most of its earnings, which limits the amount that can be reinvested in the business. This may indicate limited need for further capital within the business, or highlight a commitment to paying a dividend.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Blackwall Property Trust paid out 248% of its free cash flow last year, which we think is concerning if cash flows do not improve. Paying out more than 100% of your free cash flow in dividends is generally not a long-term, sustainable state of affairs, so we think shareholders should watch this metric closely. Blackwall Property Trust paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn't generate enough free cash flow to cover the dividend. Cash is king, as they say, and were Blackwall Property Trust to repeatedly pay dividends that aren't well covered by cashflow, we would consider this a warning sign.

It is worth considering that Blackwall Property Trust is a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). REITs have different rules governing their payments, and are often required to pay out a high portion of their earnings to investors.

Is Blackwall Property Trust's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Blackwall Property Trust has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. 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. Blackwall Property Trust is carrying net debt of 3.53 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. Interest cover of 1.61 times its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Blackwall Property Trust, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well.

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

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. Blackwall Property Trust has been paying a dividend for the past six years. It's good to see that Blackwall Property Trust has been paying a dividend for a number of years. However, the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, and we're concerned that what has been cut once, could be cut again. During the past six-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.15 in 2013, compared to AU$0.07 last year. The dividend has fallen 53% over that period.

We struggle to make a case for buying Blackwall Property Trust for its dividend, given that payments have shrunk over the past six years.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, and a poor history of shrinking dividends, it's even more important to see if EPS are growing. Blackwall Property Trust's earnings per share have shrunk at 27% a year over the past five years. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.

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. First, we think Blackwall Property Trust has an acceptable payout ratio, although its dividend was not well covered by cashflow. Second, earnings per share have been essentially flat, and its history of dividend payments is chequered - having cut its dividend at least once in the past. There are a few too many issues for us to get comfortable with Blackwall Property Trust from a dividend perspective. Businesses can change, but we would struggle to identify why an investor should rely on this stock for their income.

You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in Blackwall Property Trust stock.

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 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.