Is Yanzhou Coal Mining Company Limited (HKG:1171) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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, Yanzhou Coal Mining likely looks attractive to investors, given its 9.4% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. We’d guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. 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 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. Yanzhou Coal Mining paid out 36% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Yanzhou Coal Mining paid out 59% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation. It’s positive to see that Yanzhou Coal Mining’s dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Is Yanzhou Coal Mining’s Balance Sheet Risky?
As Yanzhou Coal Mining has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Yanzhou Coal Mining has net debt of 2.10 times its EBITDA. Using debt can accelerate business growth, but also increases the risks.
Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Yanzhou Coal Mining has interest cover of more than 12 times its interest expense, which we think is quite strong.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Yanzhou Coal Mining’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Yanzhou Coal Mining’s dividend payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was CN¥0.25 in 2010, compared to CN¥0.58 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 8.8% per year over this time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.
Dividends have grown at a reasonable rate, but with at least one substantial cut in the payments, we’re not certain this dividend stock would be ideal for someone intending to live on the income.
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. It’s good to see Yanzhou Coal Mining has been growing its earnings per share at 30% a year over the past five years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.
We’d also point out that Yanzhou Coal Mining issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Trying to grow the dividend when issuing new shares reminds us of the ancient Greek tale of Sisyphus – perpetually pushing a boulder uphill. Companies that consistently issue new shares are often suboptimal from a dividend perspective.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Yanzhou Coal Mining’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Above all, we’re glad to see that Yanzhou Coal Mining pays out a low fraction of its earnings and, while it paid a higher percentage of cashflow, this also was within a normal range. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Overall we think Yanzhou Coal Mining is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.
Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. For example, we’ve picked out 2 warning signs for Yanzhou Coal Mining that investors should know about before committing capital to this stock.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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.
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