How Does HOCHTIEF Aktiengesellschaft (FRA:HOT) Fare As A Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

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Is HOCHTIEF Aktiengesellschaft (FRA:HOT) a good dividend stock? How would you know? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

In this case, HOCHTIEF likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 4.7% dividend yield and nine-year payment history. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying HOCHTIEF for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on HOCHTIEF!

DB:HOT Historical Dividend Yield, June 8th 2019

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. Looking at the data, we can see that 58% of HOCHTIEF's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a fairly normal payout ratio among most businesses. It allows a higher dividend to be paid to shareholders, but does limit the capital retained in the business - which could be good or bad.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Of the free cash flow it generated last year, HOCHTIEF paid out 26% as dividends, suggesting the dividend is affordable. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

We update our data on HOCHTIEF every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

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 HOCHTIEF, in the last decade, was nine years ago. It's good to see that HOCHTIEF 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 €1.50 in 2010, compared to €4.98 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 14% per year over this time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 14% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

HOCHTIEF has grown distributions at a rapid rate despite cutting the dividend at least once in the past. Companies that cut once often cut again, but it might be worth considering if the business has turned a corner.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there's a good chance of bigger dividends in future? Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see HOCHTIEF has grown its earnings per share at 54% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share are sharply up, but we wonder if paying out more than half its earnings (leaving less for reinvestment) is an implicit signal that HOCHTIEF's growth will be slower in the future.

We'd also point out that HOCHTIEF 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.

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. HOCHTIEF's payout ratios are within a normal range for the average corporation, and we like that its cashflow was stronger than reported profits. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Overall we think HOCHTIEF is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 9 HOCHTIEF analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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 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.