Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you're one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that Digital China Holdings Limited (HKG:861) is about to go ex-dividend in just 3 days. The ex-dividend date occurs one day before the record date which is the day on which shareholders need to be on the company's books in order to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is important because any transaction on a stock needs to have been settled before the record date in order to be eligible for a dividend. This means that investors who purchase Digital China Holdings' shares on or after the 7th of July will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 25th of July.
The company's next dividend payment will be HK$0.13 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed HK$0.15 to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Digital China Holdings has a trailing yield of 3.9% on the current share price of HK$3.89. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Digital China Holdings's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to investigate whether Digital China Holdings can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.
View our latest analysis for Digital China Holdings
Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. That's why it's good to see Digital China Holdings paying out a modest 32% of its earnings. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. Fortunately, it paid out only 46% of its free cash flow in the past year.
It's positive to see that Digital China Holdings'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.
Click here to see how much of its profit Digital China Holdings paid out over the last 12 months.SEHK:861 Historic Dividend July 3rd 2022
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. That's why it's comforting to see Digital China Holdings's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 67% per annum for the past five years. Digital China Holdings is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow, while simultaneously growing earnings per share at a rapid clip. This is a very favourable combination that can often lead to the dividend multiplying over the long term, if earnings grow and the company pays out a higher percentage of its earnings.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Digital China Holdings's dividend payments per share have declined at 9.3% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. Digital China Holdings is a rare case where dividends have been decreasing at the same time as earnings per share have been improving. It's unusual to see, and could point to unstable conditions in the core business, or more rarely an intensified focus on reinvesting profits.
Should investors buy Digital China Holdings for the upcoming dividend? Digital China Holdings has grown its earnings per share while simultaneously reinvesting in the business. Unfortunately it's cut the dividend at least once in the past 10 years, but the conservative payout ratio makes the current dividend look sustainable. There's a lot to like about Digital China Holdings, and we would prioritise taking a closer look at it.
While it's tempting to invest in Digital China Holdings for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Digital China Holdings you should be aware of.
Generally, we wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see. Here's a curated list of interesting stocks that are strong dividend payers.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.