Could Asia Orient Holdings Limited (HKG:214) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the 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.
With a 1.3% yield and a nine-year payment history, investors probably think Asia Orient Holdings looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 1.3% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.
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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. 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, Asia Orient Holdings paid out 1.9% of its profit as dividends. We'd say its dividends are thoroughly covered by earnings.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Unfortunately, while Asia Orient Holdings pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it's not ideal from a dividend perspective.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Asia Orient Holdings's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Asia Orient Holdings's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that Asia Orient Holdings paid its first dividend at least nine years ago. It's good to see that Asia Orient Holdings 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 nine-year period, the first annual payment was HK$0.013 in 2010, compared to HK$0.018 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 4.1% a year over that time. Asia Orient Holdings's dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn't grown 4.1% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.
It's good to see some dividend growth, but the dividend has been cut at least once, and the size of the cut would eliminate most of the growth, anyway. We're not that enthused by this.
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. Over the past five years, it looks as though Asia Orient Holdings's EPS have declined at around 2.0% a year. 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.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Asia Orient Holdings's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, the company has a conservative payout ratio, although we'd note that its cashflow in the past year was substantially lower than its reported profit. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. From a dividend perspective, this is a cause for concern. Overall, Asia Orient Holdings 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.
Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Asia Orient Holdings in our latest insider ownership analysis.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 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.