It looks like Digital China Holdings Limited (HKG:861) is about to go ex-dividend in the next four days. Typically, the ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date which is the date on which a company determines the shareholders eligible to receive a dividend. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. Therefore, if you purchase Digital China Holdings' shares on or after the 15th of September, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 13th of October.
The company's next dividend payment will be HK$0.023 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed HK$0.15 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Digital China Holdings stock has a trailing yield of around 4.3% on the current share price of HK$3.54. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. As a result, readers should always check whether Digital China Holdings has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
See our latest analysis for Digital China Holdings
Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. That's why it's good to see Digital China Holdings paying out a modest 33% 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. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 46% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
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.
Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.SEHK:861 Historic Dividend September 10th 2022
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. It's encouraging to see Digital China Holdings has grown its earnings rapidly, up 61% a year for the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing very quickly, and the company is paying out a relatively low percentage of its profit and cash flow. Companies with growing earnings and low payout ratios are often the best long-term dividend stocks, as the company can both grow its earnings and increase the percentage of earnings that it pays out, essentially multiplying the dividend.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Digital China Holdings has seen its dividend decline 9.1% per annum on average over the past 10 years, which is not great to see. 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.
Is Digital China Holdings worth buying for its 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. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.
In light of that, while Digital China Holdings has an appealing dividend, it's worth knowing the risks involved with this stock. For example, we've found 2 warning signs for Digital China Holdings that we recommend you consider before investing in the business.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
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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.