Is Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys Limited (NSE:IMFA) An Attractive Dividend Stock?

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Dividend paying stocks like Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys Limited (NSE:IMFA) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.

With a 2.4% yield and a nine-year payment history, investors probably think Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys looks like a reliable dividend stock. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NSEI:IMFA Historical Dividend Yield, June 13th 2019

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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Although Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys pays a dividend, it was loss-making during the past year. When a company recently reported a loss, we should investigate if its cash flows covered the dividend.

Is Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys's Balance Sheet Risky?

Given Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys is paying a dividend but reported a loss over the past year, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A quick way to check a company's financial situation uses these two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company's total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments on debt. Essentially we check that a) a company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys has net debt of less than two times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA), which we think is not too troublesome.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. Interest cover of less than 5x its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well.

We update our data on Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys 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. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys paid its first dividend at least nine years ago. It's good to see that Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys 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. Its most recent annual dividend was ₹5.00 per share, effectively flat on its first payment nine years ago.

We're glad to see the dividend has risen, but with a limited rate of growth and fluctuations in the payments, we don't think this is an attractive combination.

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 Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys has been growing its earnings per share at 21% a year over the past 5 years.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We're a bit uncomfortable with the company paying a dividend while being loss-making, although at least the dividend was covered by free cash flow. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys 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.