Dividend paying stocks like Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank Co., Ltd. (HKG:1551) 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. 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, Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank pays a decent-sized 6.6% dividend yield, and has been distributing cash to shareholders for the past two years. It's certainly an attractive yield, but readers are likely curious about its staying power. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.
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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. In the last year, Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank paid out 26% of its profit as dividends. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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. The company has been paying a stable dividend for a few years now, but we'd like to see more evidence of consistency over a longer period. Its most recent annual dividend was CN¥0.20 per share, effectively flat on its first payment two years ago.
It's good to see at least some dividend growth. Yet with a relatively short dividend paying history, we wouldn't want to depend on this dividend too heavily.
Dividend Growth Potential
Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Earnings have grown at around 3.2% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank is paying out less than half of its earnings, which we like. Earnings per share growth have grown slowly, which is not great, but if the retained earnings can be reinvested effectively, future growth may be stronger.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We're glad to see Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. Second, earnings growth has been ordinary, and its history of dividend payments is shorter than we'd like. Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank might not be a bad business, but it doesn't show all of the characteristics we look for in a dividend stock.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular 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 Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank that investors need to be conscious of moving forward.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.
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.
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