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Bunzl plc (LON:BNZL) Passed Our Checks, And It's About To Pay A 0.7% Dividend

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 Bunzl plc (LON:BNZL) is about to go ex-dividend in just 3 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 14th of November will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 2nd of January.

Bunzl's next dividend payment will be UK£0.2 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of UK£0.5 per share. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Bunzl has a trailing yield of approximately 2.4% on its current stock price of £20.9. 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 Bunzl

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. Bunzl paid out more than half (51%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. It distributed 30% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.

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.

LSE:BNZL Historical Dividend Yield, November 10th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. This is why it's a relief to see Bunzl earnings per share are up 9.5% per annum over the last five years. Decent historical earnings per share growth suggests Bunzl has been effectively growing value for shareholders. However, it's now paying out more than half its earnings as dividends. If management lifts the payout ratio further, we'd take this as a tacit signal that the company's growth prospects are slowing.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past ten years, Bunzl has increased its dividend at approximately 9.4% a year on average. 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.

Final Takeaway

Should investors buy Bunzl for the upcoming dividend? Earnings per share growth has been modest and Bunzl paid out over half of its profits and less than half of its free cash flow, although both payout ratios are within normal limits. In summary, it's hard to get excited about Bunzl from a dividend perspective.

Curious what other investors think of Bunzl? 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.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.