Today we'll take a closer look at Shandong International Trust Co., Ltd. (HKG:1697) 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. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.
In this case, Shandong International Trust pays a decent-sized 8.4% dividend yield, and has been distributing cash to shareholders for the past two years. A 8.4% yield does look good. Could the short payment history hint at future dividend growth? Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Shandong International Trust 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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Shandong International Trust paid out 39% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.
We update our data on Shandong International Trust 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. This company's dividend has been unstable, and with a relatively short history, we think it's a little soon to draw strong conclusions about its long term dividend potential. During the past two-year period, the first annual payment was CN¥0.096 in 2018, compared to CN¥0.055 last year. Dividend payments have fallen sharply, down 43% over that time.
A shrinking dividend over a two-year period is not ideal, and we'd be concerned about investing in a dividend stock that lacks a solid record of growing dividends per share.
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. Over the past five years, it looks as though Shandong International Trust's EPS have declined at around 12% a year. 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.
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 glad to see Shandong International Trust has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Shandong International Trust out there.
Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Shandong International Trust (of which 1 is a bit concerning!) you should know about.
Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 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. Thank you for reading.