Dividend paying stocks like Professional Computer Technology Limited (GTSM:6270) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason – some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. 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.
In this case, Professional Computer Technology likely looks attractive to investors, given its 6.9% 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 analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we’ll go through this below.
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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. Professional Computer Technology paid out 104% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, from the perspective of an investor who hopes to own the company for many years, a payout ratio of above 100% is definitely a concern.
We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Professional Computer Technology paid out 131% of its free cash flow last year, which we think is concerning if cash flows do not improve. Paying out such a high percentage of cash flow suggests that the dividend was funded from either cash at bank or by borrowing, neither of which is desirable over the long term. As Professional Computer Technology’s dividend was not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we would be concerned that this dividend could be at risk over the long term.
With a strong net cash balance, Professional Computer Technology investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.
Consider getting our latest analysis on Professional Computer Technology’s financial position here.
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. Professional Computer Technology has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having been cut one or more times over this time. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was NT$2.0 in 2011, compared to NT$1.3 last year. This works out to be a decline of approximately 4.2% per year over that time. Professional Computer Technology’s dividend has been cut sharply at least once, so it hasn’t fallen by 4.2% every year, but this is a decent approximation of the long term change.
When a company’s per-share dividend falls we question if this reflects poorly on either external business conditions, or the company’s capital allocation decisions. Either way, we find it hard to get excited about a company with a declining dividend.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, it’s even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there’s a good chance of bigger dividends in future? It’s good to see Professional Computer Technology has been growing its earnings per share at 30% a year over the past five years. The company has been growing its EPS at a very rapid rate, while paying out virtually all of its income as dividends. While EPS could grow fast enough to make the dividend sustainable, in this type of situation, we’d want to pay extra attention to any fragilities in the company’s balance sheet.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Professional Computer Technology’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Professional Computer Technology paid out almost all of its cash flow and profit as dividends, leaving little to reinvest in the business. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In summary, Professional Computer Technology has a number of shortcomings that we’d find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are a number of better ideas out there.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. For example, we’ve picked out 2 warning signs for Professional Computer Technology that investors should know about before committing capital to this stock.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.
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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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