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Accenture plc (NYSE:ACN) Looks Like A Good Stock, And It's Going Ex-Dividend Soon

Simply Wall St

Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you're one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that Accenture plc (NYSE:ACN) is about to go ex-dividend in just 4 days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 15th of April will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of May.

Accenture's upcoming dividend is US$0.80 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$3.20 per share to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Accenture has a trailing yield of 1.8% on the current stock price of $177.92. 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.

See our latest analysis for Accenture

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. Accenture paid out a comfortable 31% of its profit last year. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Accenture generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. Fortunately, it paid out only 33% of its free cash flow in the past year.

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.

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

NYSE:ACN Historical Dividend Yield April 10th 2020

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. Fortunately for readers, Accenture's earnings per share have been growing at 11% a year for the past five years. Earnings per share are growing rapidly and the company is keeping more than half of its earnings within the business; an attractive combination which could suggest the company is focused on reinvesting to grow earnings further. Fast-growing businesses that are reinvesting heavily are enticing from a dividend perspective, especially since they can often increase the payout ratio later.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Since the start of our data, ten years ago, Accenture has lifted its dividend by approximately 16% a year on average. It's great to see earnings per share growing rapidly over several years, and dividends per share growing right along with it.

The Bottom Line

Should investors buy Accenture for the upcoming dividend? We love that Accenture is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. These characteristics suggest the company is reinvesting in growing its business, while the conservative payout ratio also implies a reduced risk of the dividend being cut in the future. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.

Curious what other investors think of Accenture? See what analysts 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.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.