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Today we'll take a closer look at Lentex S.A. (WSE:LTX) 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, Lentex likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 7.5% dividend yield and nine-year payment history. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. So we need to be form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Lentex paid out 94% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. With a payout ratio this high, we'd say its dividend is not well covered by earnings. This may be fine if earnings are growing, but it might not take much of a downturn for the dividend to come under pressure.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. The company paid out 59%, which is not bad per se, but does start to limit the amount of cash Lentex has available to meet other needs.
Is Lentex's Balance Sheet Risky?
As Lentex's dividend was not well covered by earnings, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A quick way to check a company's financial situation uses these two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures a company's total debt load relative to its earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the company's ability to pay the interest on its debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With net debt of 0.87 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), Lentex has an acceptable level of debt.
Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 26.37 times its interest expense, Lentex's interest cover is quite strong - more than enough to cover the interest expense.
We update our data on Lentex 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. The first recorded dividend for Lentex, in the last decade, was nine years ago. Its dividend has not fluctuated much that time, which we like, but we're conscious that the company might not yet have a track record of maintaining dividends in all economic conditions. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was zł0.26 in 2010, compared to zł0.55 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 8.7% per year over this time.
The dividend has been growing at a reasonable rate, which we like. We're conscious though that one of the best ways to detect a multi-decade consistent dividend payer, is to watch a company pay dividends for 20 years - a distinction Lentex has not achieved yet.
Dividend Growth Potential
The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient's purchasing power. Earnings have grown at around 3.7% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! This level of earnings growth is low, and the company is paying out 94% of its profit. Limited recent earnings growth and a high payout ratio makes it hard for us to envision strong future dividend growth, unless the company should have substantial pricing power or some form of competitive advantage.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Lentex'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 a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio, although we note cashflow was stronger than income. Unfortunately, earnings growth has also been mediocre, and we think it has not been paying dividends long enough to demonstrate resilience across economic cycles. Overall, Lentex 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 Lentex management tenure, salary, and performance.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.