A big thing that would bother me about a dividend stock would be very low Liquidity Ratios. If the Liquidity Ratio is lower than 1.00, it means that current assets cannot cover current liabilities. This can cause trouble in the best of times; however it can be devastating if we suddenly go into a bear market then recession.
The Liquidity Ratio is a very easy figure to ascertain. Look for a company's Balance Sheet and divide the current assets by the current liabilities to get this ratio. It is best if this ratio is 1.50 or higher. I generally do not like mucking about with this ratio to get it to a decent number, but sometimes that may be unavoidable. With the best companies this is usually not a problem.
Unfortunately the Liquidity Ratio can get more complex. Some companies, especially utilities rely on cash flow to cover current liabilities. In order the calculate the effect of using cash flow, add to the assets Cash Flow from Operations, less dividends paid. You can find dividends paid are in the Financing Activities section.
Sometimes the Liquidity Ratio is low because debt has come due and there is a large amount of Long Term Debt due in current year under Current Liabilities. First look into the notes on Financial Statements and ensure that the debt is being handled. If this is true, you can subtract the Long Term Debt due in the current year from the current liabilities before you calculate the Liquidity Ratio.
I remember the problem that Teck Resources Ltd (TSX-TECK.B, NYSE-TECK) had when they bought Fording Coal. Their Liquidity Ratio plummeted to 0.44 just as the 2008 recession hit. The stock also plummeted and they had to cut the dividend.
It is not easy to find articles on their problems. However, Gordon Pitts in the Globe and Mail in June 2010 talks about problems that Teck had from this 2008 purchase. Andy Clark on Reuters talks about the problems Teck was having in 2009. There is a discussion on Liquidity Ratios on Investopedia
On my other blog I wrote yesterday about BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX-BB, NASDAQ-BBRY)... learn more. Tomorrow, I will write about ONEX Corp. (TSX-OCX, OTC-ONEXF)... learn more on Friday, August 18, 2017 around 9 am.
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