Is National Medical Care Company (TADAWUL:4005) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.
With a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if National Medical Care is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. We’d agree the yield does look enticing. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying National Medical Care for its dividend – read on to learn more.
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. 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 95% of National Medical Care’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is quite a high payout ratio that suggests the dividend is not well covered by earnings.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. National Medical Care’s cash payout ratio in the last year was 48%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business. It’s good to see that while National Medical Care’s dividends were not well covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a free cash flow perspective. Even so, if the company were to continue paying out almost all of its profits, we’d be concerned about whether the dividend is sustainable in a downturn.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company’s earnings, we do note National Medical Care’s strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
We update our data on National Medical Care 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. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that National Medical Care paid its first dividend at least eight years ago. It’s good to see that National Medical Care 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 eight-year period, the first annual payment was ر.س1.5 in 2012, compared to ر.س2.0 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 4.1% per year over this 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
With a relatively unstable dividend, it’s even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing – it’s not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. In the last five years, National Medical Care’s earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 2.2% per annum. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company’s dividend.
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. We’re a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio, although at least the dividend was covered by free cash flow. Earnings per share are down, and National Medical Care’s dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. In summary, National Medical Care 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.
It’s important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. Taking the debate a bit further, we’ve identified 1 warning sign for National Medical Care that investors need to be conscious of moving forward.
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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