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AZZ Inc. (NYSE:AZZ) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 4 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 20th of October in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 4th of November.
AZZ's next dividend payment will be US$0.17 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$0.68 per share. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, AZZ has a trailing yield of approximately 1.9% on its current stock price of $35.6. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
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. AZZ is paying out an acceptable 55% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies. 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. What's good is that dividends were well covered by free cash flow, with the company paying out 16% of its cash flow 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?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. With that in mind, we're discomforted by AZZ's 13% per annum decline in earnings in the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. AZZ has delivered an average of 3.1% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. That's interesting, but the combination of a growing dividend despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out more of the company's profits. This can be valuable for shareholders, but it can't go on forever.
To Sum It Up
Should investors buy AZZ for the upcoming dividend? The payout ratios are within a reasonable range, implying the dividend may be sustainable. Declining earnings are a serious concern, however, and could pose a threat to the dividend in future. Overall we're not hugely bearish on the stock, but there are likely better dividend investments out there.
With that being said, if dividends aren't your biggest concern with AZZ, you should know about the other risks facing this business. For example, we've found 2 warning signs for AZZ that we recommend you consider before investing in the business.
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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