Investors in Singapore have a huge benefit from untaxed dividends.
That makes our local stock market one of the best places to build a portfolio of dividend-paying stocks.
However, not every stock is worthy of your investment dollars.
To help separate the wheat from the chaff, there is one simple ratio I look at to get a better handle of the attractiveness of the dividend stock: the payout ratio
A simple ratio to watch
The common goal of a dividend investor is to build a steady stream of reliable income.
As such, we want to make sure that the companies that we invest in can afford to support the dividend that it is currently paying.
To do so, we can check if these companies are paying its dividends using cash that it generates from its operations.
And that’s where the payout ratio comes in.
We want a dividend that is well-covered by either earnings or free cash flow.
The degree of coverage is measured by the payout ratio which is the amount of profits or free cash flow that a company decides to pay out as a dividend.
In general, a lower payout ratio implies that the dividend is well-protected and sustainable while leaving room for dividend increases in the future.
But there is more nuance to it.
Mature companies with limited growth potential would be better off retaining less cash and paying it out as a dividend. Therefore, a higher payout ratio is preferable.
Under this scenario, investors would get a good, steady dividend. However, they should not expect dividends to grow meaningfully in the future since there is not much cash retained for internal use.
On the other hand, if we have a company with a long runway of growth, we would want more cash to be retained — that is, maintain a lower dividend payout ratio — to grow the business.
If the company is successful in growing, we should expect to receive higher dividends in the future.
Get Smart: No one ratio can rule them all
Unfortunately, investing cannot be distilled down to a single ratio. If a company’s profits fall, its dividends may eventually be cut.
The payout ratio tells you whether the business can afford to pay the dividend today. But it does not tell you whether the company’s earnings will grow, stagnate or decline in the future.
It is not enough just to judge a company by one ratio alone. There are many other ratios and factors to consider.
And that’s what we do here at The Smart Investor. Our common goal remains the same – to build a stream of income that can sustain us for life. We spend our time digging through company reports and analysing other aspects of a company’s business. We would like to bring our hard work to you. You can learn more about building an steady income stream that can feed you and your family for life through our new service, The Smart Dividend Portfolio.
Click HERE to find out more.
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