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Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBA) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next four days. Investors can purchase shares before the 18th of February in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 12th of March.
Walgreens Boots Alliance's next dividend payment will be US$0.47 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$1.87 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Walgreens Boots Alliance has a trailing yield of 3.7% on the current stock price of $50.38. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's 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. Walgreens Boots Alliance lost money last year, so the fact that it's paying a dividend is certainly disconcerting. There might be a good reason for this, but we'd want to look into it further before getting comfortable. 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. Fortunately, it paid out only 41% of its free cash flow in the past year.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Walgreens Boots Alliance was unprofitable last year and, unfortunately, the general trend suggests its earnings have been in decline over the last five years, making us wonder if the dividend is sustainable at all.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, Walgreens Boots Alliance has lifted its dividend by approximately 13% a year on average.
Has Walgreens Boots Alliance got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? First, it's not great to see the company paying a dividend despite being loss-making over the last year. On the plus side, the dividend was covered by free cash flow." It's not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we'd probably give this one a miss for now.
So if you're still interested in Walgreens Boots Alliance despite it's poor dividend qualities, you should be well informed on some of the risks facing this stock. For example, we've found 3 warning signs for Walgreens Boots Alliance (1 is concerning!) that deserve your attention before investing in the shares.
If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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