It looks like Hostelworld Group plc (LON:HSW) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 29th of August, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 20th of September.
Hostelworld Group's next dividend payment will be €0.042 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed €0.14 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Hostelworld Group stock has a trailing yield of around 8.6% on the current share price of £1.462. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Hostelworld Group paid out 124% of profit in the past year, which we think is typically not sustainable unless there are mitigating characteristics such as unusually strong cash flow or a large cash balance. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. It paid out 81% of its free cash flow as dividends, which is within usual limits but will limit the company's ability to lift the dividend if there's no growth.
It's good to see that while Hostelworld Group's dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. If executives were to continue paying more in dividends than the company reported in profits, we'd view this as a warning sign. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. It's encouraging to see Hostelworld Group has grown its earnings rapidly, up 89% a year for the past five years.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 3 years, Hostelworld Group has lifted its dividend by approximately 71% a year on average. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.
The Bottom Line
Should investors buy Hostelworld Group for the upcoming dividend? Hostelworld Group has been growing its earnings per share nicely, although judging by the difference between its profit and cashflow payout ratios, the company might have reported some write-offs over the last year. While it does have some good things going for it, we're a bit ambivalent and it would take more to convince us of Hostelworld Group's dividend merits.
Ever wonder what the future holds for Hostelworld Group? See what the six analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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