Today we'll take a closer look at Asset Plus Limited (NZSE:APL) 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 the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.
In this case, Asset Plus likely looks attractive to investors, given its 5.7% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Asset Plus for its dividend - read on to learn more.
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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. In the last year, Asset Plus paid out 97% of its profit as dividends. Paying out a majority of its earnings limits the amount that can be reinvested in the business. This may indicate a commitment to paying a dividend, or a dearth of investment opportunities.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. The company paid out 59% of its free cash flow, which is not bad per se, but does start to limit the amount of cash Asset Plus has available to meet other needs. 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.
We update our data on Asset Plus every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, 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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Asset Plus's dividend payments. The dividend has been cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was NZ$0.05 in 2009, compared to NZ$0.036 last year. This works out to be a decline of approximately 3.3% per year over that time. Asset Plus's dividend hasn't shrunk linearly at -3.3% per annum, but the CAGR is a useful estimate of the historical rate of change.
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. In the last five years, Asset Plus's earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 35% per annum. If earnings continue to decline, the dividend may come under pressure. Every investor should make an assessment of whether the company is taking steps to stabilise the situation.
Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company's dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. Asset Plus's is paying out more than half its income as dividends, but at least the dividend is covered both by reported earnings and cashflow. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. From a dividend perspective, this is a cause for concern. Overall, Asset Plus falls short in several key areas here. Unless the investor has strong grounds for an alternative conclusion, we find it hard to get interested in a dividend stock with these characteristics.
Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on Asset Plus management tenure, salary, and performance.
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 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.