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Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSE:CNQ) Looks Like A Good Stock, And It's Going Ex-Dividend Soon

Simply Wall St

Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSE:CNQ) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 3 days time. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 12th of September will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 1st of October.

Canadian Natural Resources's next dividend payment will be CA$0.38 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed CA$1.50 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Canadian Natural Resources has a trailing yield of 4.8% on the current stock price of CA$31.51. 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! As a result, readers should always check whether Canadian Natural Resources has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

View our latest analysis for Canadian Natural Resources

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Fortunately Canadian Natural Resources's payout ratio is modest, at just 35% of profit. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Canadian Natural Resources generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It distributed 36% 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.

TSX:CNQ Historical Dividend Yield, September 8th 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 business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. For this reason, we're glad to see Canadian Natural Resources's earnings per share have risen 14% 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. This will make it easier to fund future growth efforts and we think this is an attractive combination - plus the dividend can always be increased later.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Canadian Natural Resources has increased its dividend at approximately 22% a year on average. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.

Final Takeaway

Is Canadian Natural Resources an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? It's great that Canadian Natural Resources is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. It's disappointing to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, but as things stand now, the low payout ratio suggests a conservative approach to dividends, which we like. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Canadian Natural Resources? See what the nine analysts we track 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.