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Advance Auto Parts, Inc. (NYSE:AAP) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in four days. The ex-dividend date is usually set to be one business day before the record date which is the cut-off date on which you must be present on the company's books as a shareholder in order to receive the dividend. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. Meaning, you will need to purchase Advance Auto Parts' shares before the 17th of June to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 2nd of July.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$1.00 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$4.00 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Advance Auto Parts has a trailing yield of 2.0% on the current share price of $199.44. 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.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Advance Auto Parts is paying out just 11% of its profit after tax, which is comfortably low and leaves plenty of breathing room in the case of adverse events. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. The good news is it paid out just 6.6% of its free cash flow in the last 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.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. This is why it's a relief to see Advance Auto Parts earnings per share are up 7.7% per annum over the last five years. Earnings per share have been increasing steadily and management is reinvesting almost all of the profits back into the business. If profits are reinvested effectively, this could be a bullish combination for future earnings and dividends.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Advance Auto Parts has delivered 32% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.
To Sum It Up
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Advance Auto Parts? Earnings per share growth has been growing somewhat, and Advance Auto Parts 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. We would prefer to see earnings growing faster, but the best dividend stocks over the long term typically combine significant earnings per share growth with a low payout ratio, and Advance Auto Parts is halfway there. There's a lot to like about Advance Auto Parts, and we would prioritise taking a closer look at it.
With that in mind, a critical part of thorough stock research is being aware of any risks that stock currently faces. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Advance Auto Parts you should know about.
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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