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AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) Has Announced That It Will Be Increasing Its Dividend To $0.764

·3 min read

The board of AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) has announced that it will be paying its dividend of $0.764 on the 12th of September, an increased payment from last year's comparable dividend. This takes the annual payment to 2.1% of the current stock price, which unfortunately is below what the industry is paying.

View our latest analysis for AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca Doesn't Earn Enough To Cover Its Payments

Even a low dividend yield can be attractive if it is sustained for years on end. While AstraZeneca is not profitable, it is paying out less than 75% of its free cash flow, which means that there is plenty left over for reinvestment into the business. We generally think that cash flow is more important than accounting measures of profit, so we are fairly comfortable with the dividend at this level.

Earnings per share is forecast to rise by 104.6% over the next year. If the dividend continues on its recent course, the company could be paying out several times what it earns in the next 12 months, which could start applying pressure to the balance sheet.


AstraZeneca Has A Solid Track Record

The company has a sustained record of paying dividends with very little fluctuation. The dividend has gone from an annual total of $2.80 in 2012 to the most recent total annual payment of $2.69. Payments have been decreasing at a very slow pace in this time period. Declining dividends isn't generally what we look for as they can indicate that the company is running into some challenges.

The Dividend Has Limited Growth Potential

Investors could be attracted to the stock based on the quality of its payment history. Unfortunately things aren't as good as they seem. AstraZeneca's EPS has fallen by approximately 24% per year during the past five years. Dividend payments are likely to come under some pressure unless EPS can pull out of the nosedive it is in. It's not all bad news though, as the earnings are predicted to rise over the next 12 months - we would just be a bit cautious until this becomes a long term trend.

In Summary

In summary, while it's always good to see the dividend being raised, we don't think AstraZeneca's payments are rock solid. The company has been bring in plenty of cash to cover the dividend, but we don't necessarily think that makes it a great dividend stock. This company is not in the top tier of income providing stocks.

Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. As an example, we've identified 3 warning signs for AstraZeneca that you should be aware of before investing. Is AstraZeneca not quite the opportunity you were looking for? Why not check out our selection of top dividend stocks.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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