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Is thyssenkrupp AG (ETR:TKA) A Strong Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Could thyssenkrupp AG (ETR:TKA) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

A 1.4% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests thyssenkrupp has some staying power. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding thyssenkrupp for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on thyssenkrupp!

XTRA:TKA Historical Dividend Yield, August 6th 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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Although thyssenkrupp 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.

Last year, thyssenkrupp paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.

Is thyssenkrupp's Balance Sheet Risky?

Given thyssenkrupp 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 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). thyssenkrupp has net debt of 5.10 times its EBITDA, which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 1.19 times its interest expense, thyssenkrupp's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin. High debt and weak interest cover are not a great combo, and we would be cautious of relying on this company's dividend while these metrics persist.

We update our data on thyssenkrupp 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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of thyssenkrupp's dividend payments. Its dividend payments have fallen by 20% or more on at least one occasion over the past ten years. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €1.30 in 2009, compared to €0.15 last year. The dividend has fallen 88% over that period.

A shrinking dividend over a ten-year period is not ideal, and we'd be concerned about investing in a dividend stock that lacks a solid record of growing dividends per share.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that dividend payments have been shrinking like a glacier in a warming world, we need to check if there are some bright spots on the horizon. It's good to see thyssenkrupp has been growing its earnings per share at 10% a year over the past 5 years. Earnings per share have been growing at a good rate, and the company is paying less than half its earnings as dividends. We generally think this is an attractive combination, as it permits further reinvestment in the business.

We'd also point out that thyssenkrupp issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental - it's hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that thyssenkrupp's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. thyssenkrupp's dividend is not well covered by free cash flow, plus it paid a dividend while being unprofitable. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings per share growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. Overall, thyssenkrupp 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.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 14 analysts we track are forecasting for thyssenkrupp for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

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.