A TSX Dividend Beast Slashes Its Payout by 70%

The situation in the stock market is getting to be alarming. Many companies in the energy stock, including dividend all-star Inter Pipeline stock, are slashing dividends by 50% or more.

Businessman holding tablet and showing a growing virtual hologram of statistics, graph and chart with arrow up on dark background. Stock market. Business growth, planning and strategy concept

Image source: Getty Images

The die is cast and the decision is irreversible. Income investors are upset by the news that one of the dividend all-stars is reducing its dividend by more than 70%. Inter Pipeline (TSX:IPL) is halting its 11-year dividend growth streak after announcing a dividend cut last March 30, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic and lower oil prices were cited by management as the reasons for the decision. Inter Pipeline’s dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) will also be on hold. The previous payment of 14.25 cents per share is down to four cents, starting with the May 15, 2020 payment.

Beginning April 1, 2020, there will be a 20% and 10% cut in the salaries of the CEO and executive officers, respectively. The board of directors will receive 15% less of the regular cash retainer due to them.

Justification

The dividend cut by this energy infrastructure company came as a surprise. Inter Pipeline operates pipelines and other energy infrastructure assets in Western Canada and Europe. Every year, from 2009 to 2018, investors got so used to a dividend increase until the zero increase in year-end 2019.

However, the twin shocks of the coronavirus and plunging oil prices are too hot to handle. Inter Pipeline’s CEO and President Christian Bayle justify the action as prudent. The dividend cut will also mean annualized savings of up to $525 million.

Bayle, however, remains confident about the company’s operations. The CEO wants investors to know that the decision of the board members is not a reflection of the lack of confidence in Inter Pipeline’s core businesses. He said the current business environment is unique and very challenging.

Shelved plan

Apart from the dividend cut, other plans in the pipeline were shelved and moved to the back burner. Inter Pipeline’s plan to sell its European bulk liquid storage has been overturned even though the talks with potential buyers have reached the advanced stage.

The prospective acquirers from Europe are also dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Their businesses have been affected such that the sale process would be difficult to execute at present. Inter Pipeline’s bulk liquid storage business spans the U.K., Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, and Sweden.

Inter Pipeline is open to revisiting the process when the environment is right. Only then can this $4.21 billion pipeline operator pursue and complete the transaction. The share price of Inter Pipeline is currently trading at $10.01, with a year-to-date loss of nearly 54%.

Hard luck club

Inter Pipeline isn’t the only stock in the energy sector cutting dividends. Although not dividend all-stars, Vermilion (82.61%), TORC (80%), Crescent Point (75%), and Whitecap (50%) are also implementing dividend cuts. Meanwhile, Cenovus (100%) is temporarily suspending dividend payments.

If the pace of coronavirus infections is accelerating, so too the pace of dividend cuts in the stock market. Inter Pipeline will no longer be a dividend all-star for understandable reasons.

The company assets are its financial bedrocks. It should be producing stable, fee-based cash flow in the long-term. But the call of the times is to be sensible, and practical on the financial aspect to be able to ride out the pandemic.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Christopher Liew has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Torc Oil And Gas Ltd.

More on Dividend Stocks

money cash dividends
Dividend Stocks

TFSA: 3 of the Best Canadian Dividend Stocks to Buy This Year

Are you looking for some of the best Canadian Dividend stocks to buy this year? Here are three great options…

Read more »

Man data analyze
Dividend Stocks

2 Recession-Tough Stocks to Buy in February 2023

TSX stocks, such as Jamieson Wellness, are trading at compelling valuations and might deliver stellar gains to investors.

Read more »

A worker overlooks an oil refinery plant.
Dividend Stocks

Defensive Investors: 3 Stocks to Shore Up Your Portfolio

Fortis is a defensive stock with an impressive track record.

Read more »

edit Woman calculating figures next to a laptop
Dividend Stocks

Passive Income: 2 Cheap Stocks to Buy and Never Sell

Buying dividend stocks cheap and discounted is a strategy many value investors pursue to maximize the return potential.

Read more »

Female friends enjoying their dessert together at a mall
Dividend Stocks

Dividend Stocks: Will Debt Load Put a Damper on This Top Stock in 2023?

This dividend stock has a very solid track record of revenue and cash flow growth, ,as well as dividend growth,…

Read more »

A plant grows from coins.
Dividend Stocks

How to Invest in One of the Most Important Commodities in the World (It’s Not Gold)

Many things we take for granted may offer economic value and a powerful investment opportunity beyond commodities like gold or…

Read more »

growing plant shoots on stacked coins
Dividend Stocks

Need Passive Income? Turn $15,000 Into $1,016 Annually With These 2 Dividend Stocks

Canadian investors with limited capital can create passive-income streams from two high-yield dividend stocks.

Read more »

Businessman holding tablet and showing a growing virtual hologram of statistics, graph and chart with arrow up on dark background. Stock market. Business growth, planning and strategy concept
Dividend Stocks

Why Brookfield Infrastructure Partners Stock Rose 11.8% Last Month

Most, if not all, investors could do well by buying quality dividend stocks like Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (TSX:BIP.UN) on dips.

Read more »