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Do These 3 Checks Before Buying Land Securities Group plc (LON:LAND) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Simply Wall St

Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Land Securities Group plc (LON:LAND) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. You will need to purchase shares before the 5th of September to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 4th of October.

Land Securities Group's next dividend payment will be UK£0.12 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of UK£0.46 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Land Securities Group has a trailing yield of 5.9% on the current stock price of £7.754. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Land Securities Group's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

Check out our latest analysis for Land Securities Group

Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. It paid out 80% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. We'd be concerned if earnings began to decline. While Land Securities Group seems to be paying out a very high percentage of its income, REITs have different dividend payment behaviour and so, while we don't think this is great, we also don't think it is unusual. With the recent loss, it's important to check if the business generated enough cash to pay its dividend. If cash earnings don't cover the dividend, the company would have to pay dividends out of cash in the bank, or by borrowing money, neither of which is long-term sustainable. Over the last year, it paid out more than three-quarters (80%) of its free cash flow generated, which is fairly high and may be starting to limit reinvestment in the business.

Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

LSE:LAND Historical Dividend Yield, September 1st 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Land Securities Group was unprofitable last year and, unfortunately, the general trend suggests its earnings have been in decline over the last 5 years, making us wonder if the dividend is sustainable at all.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Land Securities Group's dividend payments per share have declined at 4.3% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. It's never nice to see earnings and dividends falling, but at least management has cut the dividend rather than potentially risk the company's health in an attempt to maintain it.

Get our latest analysis on Land Securities Group's balance sheet health here.

To Sum It Up

Should investors buy Land Securities Group for the upcoming dividend? It's hard to get used to Land Securities Group paying a dividend despite reporting a loss over the past year. At least the dividend was covered by free cash flow, however. It's not that we think Land Securities Group is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.

Wondering what the future holds for Land Securities Group? See what the ten analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

We wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see, though. Here's a list of interesting dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.