Vestas headed for first dividend in a decade

Source: Alex Morales, Bloomberg • Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2014

The world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer is on the verge of its first cash dividend payment in more than 10 years, possibly signaling a turnaround for the industry after a three-year slump.

Vestas Wind Systems AS is set to meet solvency and profitability targets required for a dividend payment, according to seven analysts who responded to an emailed Bloomberg News survey. Six expect a payout will follow the 2015 announcement of this year’s earnings. All anticipate payments in 2016.

“The combination of improved underlying cash flows together with a lower need for investment means they can pay a dividend,” said Patrik Setterberg, an analyst at Nordea Markets. “It’s a signal that the industry has reached a more mature level.”

Dividends are rare for the wind turbine industry. Of Europe’s three listed specialist manufacturers, one has never paid a cash dividend, a second hasn’t returned money to investors since 2012 and a third — Vestas — last paid out in April 2003.

“It’s a new industry which has to spend a lot of money to improve technology and profitability,” said Ralf Peters, spokesman for turbine manufacturer Nordex SE.

Vestas on Wednesday posted a third consecutive quarterly profit since breaking a streak of nine losses. The company’s executives have stayed quiet on whether a dividend can be expected. Vestas CFO Marika Fredriksson said that is a decision for the board.

“That would be a proof of the stability we’re working for in Vestas,” she said. “If you look at the Q2 numbers, we are meeting the criteria” for a payout.

Even if those conditions are met, a dividend is not a guarantee. A provision of Vestas’ dividend policy says “payout of dividends will always take into consideration the group’s plans for growth and liquidity requirements,” allowing the board to decide whether or not to pay one.