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Down 50% in 5 years, does the BT share price reflect the 2024-26 dividend forecast?

Picture supply: BT Group plc

Since March 2019, the BT (LSE:BT.A) share value has been the fourth worst-performing on the FTSE 100. It’s crashed by 50%, crushed solely by St James’ Place, Ocado and Worldwide Consolidated Airways.

A falling share value could possibly be indicative of a discount within the dividend. Certainly, for the 12 months ended 31 March 2023 (FY23), the corporate paid 7.7p a share, in comparison with 15.4p in FY19.

However the inventory’s nonetheless yielding 7.2% — effectively above the FTSE 100 common of three.9% – which could possibly be an indication that buyers predict an additional reduce.

Seeing into the longer term

The corporate repeatedly publishes a abstract of analysts’ forecasts on its web site. And if right, these will disappoint earnings buyers.

For every of the subsequent three years, the common of those predictions is forecasting a decrease dividend than now — 7.44p for FY24, then 7.2p for FY25 and seven.31p for FY26.

Nonetheless, even the bottom of those would indicate a present yield of 6.8%. Once more, that is comfortably greater than the common of its Footsie friends.

Encouragingly, the forecasts for earnings per share (EPS) recommend there’s loads of headroom for a dividend in extra of 7p.

For instance, the anticipated payout for FY24 is half the anticipated EPS of 14.9p. Ought to the corporate’s outcomes be barely worse than anticipated, there’s nonetheless loads of scope to keep up the dividend.

This makes me suppose there should be another excuse why buyers seem to have fallen out of affection with the inventory.

And searching on the firm’s prospectus from 1984 — revealed on the time of its privatisation — I believe there are some clues as to why BT’s share value efficiency has been so disappointing lately.

A historical past lesson

At 31 March 1984, the corporate had a inventory market valuation of £7.8bn.

Right now – practically 40 years later – it’s elevated by ‘solely’ 36%, to £10.7bn. However when inflation is taken into consideration, it’s fallen by 54%!

For the 12 months ended 31 March 1984, its EPS was 18.1p – greater than the figures anticipated for FY24 (14.9p), FY25 (14.8p) and FY26 (15p).

In different phrases, after practically 4 many years, the corporate’s monetary efficiency has worsened.

A well-known story

BT isn’t alone in experiencing falling earnings. Vodafone has suffered an analogous destiny. Its share value has additionally halved over the previous 5 years.

The issue is that the telecoms sector requires enormous funding however the returns generated, largely as a consequence of intense competitors, haven’t stored tempo. A backdrop of rising rates of interest over the previous couple of years hasn’t helped the state of affairs both.

In nominal phrases (ignoring inflation), BT’s borrowings at the moment are seven occasions greater than they had been on flotation. Nevertheless it hasn’t benefitted from this funding. For the 12 months ended 31 March 1984, its return on fairness was 16.6%. In FY23, it was 13.1%.

In keeping with Barclays, solely the utilities sector performs worse when gross sales and earnings, relative to the quantities invested, are analysed.

For my part, the disappointing BT share value efficiency has extra to do with the business wherein it operates, reasonably than the corporate itself. It won’t be rising quickly – its efficiency over the subsequent three years is predicted to be stable, if unspectacular – however the dividend at present ranges appears inexpensive to me.


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