Readers hoping to buy Atlas Copco AB (STO:ATCO A) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 25th of October will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 31st of October.
Atlas Copco's next dividend payment will be kr3.2 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed kr6.3 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Atlas Copco stock has a trailing yield of around 2.0% on the current share price of SEK310.3. 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! So we need to investigate whether Atlas Copco can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.
Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. Atlas Copco paid out a comfortable 45% of its profit last year. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 30% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. This is why it's a relief to see Atlas Copco earnings per share are up 6.9% per annum over the last five years. The company is retaining more than half of its earnings within the business, and it has been growing earnings at a decent rate. We think this is generally an attractive combination, as dividends can grow through a combination of earnings growth and or a higher payout ratio over time.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Atlas Copco has delivered 7.7% dividend growth per year on average over the past ten years. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.
The Bottom Line
Is Atlas Copco an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? Earnings per share growth has been growing somewhat, and Atlas Copco is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends. This is interesting for a few reasons, as it suggests management may be reinvesting heavily in the business, but it also provides room to increase the dividend in time. It might be nice to see earnings growing faster, but Atlas Copco is being conservative with its dividend payouts and could still perform reasonably over the long run. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.
Curious what other investors think of Atlas Copco? See what analysts 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.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.