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Should You Buy Savills plc (LON:SVS) For Its Upcoming Dividend In 3 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 Savills plc (LON:SVS) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 5th of September, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 2nd of October.

Savills's next dividend payment will be UK£0.05 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of UK£0.31 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Savills stock has a trailing yield of around 3.8% on the current share price of £8.27. 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 investigate whether Savills can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

See our latest analysis for Savills

Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. Savills paid out a comfortable 28% of its profit last year. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Savills generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. Fortunately, it paid out only 38% of its free cash flow in the past 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.

LSE:SVS Historical Dividend Yield, September 1st 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at Savills, with earnings per share up 6.8% on average over the last five years. Management have been reinvested more than half of the company's earnings within the business, and the company has been able to grow earnings with this retained capital. Organisations that reinvest heavily in themselves typically get stronger over time, which can bring attractive benefits such as stronger earnings and dividends.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Savills has increased its dividend at approximately 13% a year on average. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.

To Sum It Up

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Savills? Earnings per share growth has been growing somewhat, and Savills 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 Savills is halfway there. Savills looks solid on this analysis overall, and we'd definitely consider investigating it more closely.

Wondering what the future holds for Savills? See what the three 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.