Is BHG Retail REIT (SGX:BMGU) A Risky Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Is BHG Retail REIT (SGX:BMGU) a good dividend stock? How would you know? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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, BHG Retail REIT pays a decent-sized 7.2% dividend yield, and has been distributing cash to shareholders for the past three years. A high yield probably looks enticing, but investors are likely wondering about the short payment history. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying BHG Retail REIT for its dividend - read on to learn more.

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SGX:BMGU Historical Dividend Yield, May 16th 2019

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Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. BHG Retail REIT paid out 52% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A payout ratio above 50% generally implies a business is reaching maturity, although it is still possible to reinvest in the business or increase the dividend over time.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. BHG Retail REIT paid out 52% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation.

BHG Retail REIT is a REIT, which is an investment structure that often has different payout rules compared to other companies. It is not uncommon for REITs to pay out 100% of their earnings each year.


Is BHG Retail REIT's Balance Sheet Risky?

As BHG Retail REIT has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) 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 above 3x EBITDA, investors are starting to take on a meaningful amount of risk, should the business enter a downturn.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 4.35 times its interest expense, BHG Retail REIT's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin.

Consider getting our latest analysis on BHG Retail REIT'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. It has only been paying dividends for a few short years, and the dividend has already been cut at least once. This is one income stream we're not ready to live on. During the past three-year period, the first annual payment was S$0.03 in 2016, compared to S$0.052 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 20% a year over that 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.

So, its dividends have grown at a rapid rate over this time, but payments have been cut in the past. The stock may still be worth considering as part of a diversified dividend portfolio.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. EPS have fallen -17% over the last 12 months. That's not great to see, but there could be a number of reasons for this. Should the decline continue, we would become concerned. Any one year of performance can be misleading for a variety of reasons, so we wouldn't like to form any strong conclusions based on these numbers alone.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. First, we think BHG Retail REIT is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and 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, BHG Retail REIT 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.

See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in BHG Retail REIT stock.

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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. Thank you for reading.