U.S. Markets open in 4 hrs

Should You Buy Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG) For Its Upcoming Dividend In 4 Days?

Simply Wall St

Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. You will need to purchase shares before the 2nd of September to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 27th of September.

Origin Energy's next dividend payment will be AU$0.15 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed AU$0.30 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Origin Energy stock has a trailing yield of around 4.0% on the current share price of A$7.55. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Origin Energy's dividend is reliable and sustainable. As a result, readers should always check whether Origin Energy has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

Check out our latest analysis for Origin Energy

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. Fortunately Origin Energy's payout ratio is modest, at just 36% of profit. 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 15% 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.

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

ASX:ORG Historical Dividend Yield, August 28th 2019

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. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. For this reason, we're glad to see Origin Energy's earnings per share have risen 19% per annum over the last five years. Earnings per share have been growing rapidly and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings within the business. Fast-growing businesses that are reinvesting heavily are enticing from a dividend perspective, especially since they can often increase the payout ratio later.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Origin Energy's dividend payments per share have declined at 5.0% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. It's unusual to see earnings per share increasing at the same time as dividends per share have been in decline. We'd hope it's because the company is reinvesting heavily in its business, but it could also suggest business is lumpy.

The Bottom Line

Should investors buy Origin Energy for the upcoming dividend? Origin Energy has grown its earnings per share while simultaneously reinvesting in the business. Unfortunately it's cut the dividend at least once in the past ten years, but the conservative payout ratio makes the current dividend look sustainable. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.

Wondering what the future holds for Origin Energy? See what the ten analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

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.