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07 February 2020 08:35

ALD

Today we'll take a closer look at ALD S.A. (EPA:ALD) 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. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments. In this case, ALD pays a decent-sized 4.4% dividend yield, and has been distributing cash to shareholders for the past two years.

A 4.4% yield does look good. Could the short payment history hint at future dividend growth? There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying ALD for its dividend, and we'll go through these below. Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on ALD! Payout ratios 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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. In the last year, ALD paid out 42% 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. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time. 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 ALD 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. Consider getting our latest analysis on ALD's financial position here. Dividend Volatility 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. The dividend has not fluctuated much, but with a relatively short payment history, we can't be sure this is sustainable across a full market cycle. During the past two-year period, the first annual payment was €0.55 in 2018, compared to €0.58 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 2.7% a year over that time. Modest dividend growth is good to see, especially with the payments being relatively stable. However, the payment history is relatively short and we wouldn't want to rely on this dividend too much. 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. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see ALD has grown its earnings per share at 11% per annum over the past five years. A company paying out less than a quarter of its earnings as dividends, and growing earnings at more than 10% per annum, looks to be right in the cusp of its growth phase. At the right price, we might be interested. Conclusion 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. First, we like ALD's low dividend payout ratio, although we're a bit concerned that it paid out a substantially higher percentage of its free cash flow. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than ALD out there. Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 7 analysts we track are forecasting for ALD for free with public analyst estimates for the company. Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%. If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at [email protected] 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. 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. Thank you for reading.