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Dividend Investors: Don't Be Too Quick To Buy BP p.l.c. (LON:BP.) For Its Upcoming Dividend

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BP p.l.c. (LON:BP.) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 6th of May in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 18th of June.

BP's next dividend payment will be US$0.052 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.21 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, BP has a trailing yield of approximately 5.0% on its current stock price of £3.03. 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 BP has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

View our latest analysis for BP

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. BP paid a dividend last year despite being unprofitable. This might be a one-off event, but it's not a sustainable state of affairs in the long run. Considering the lack of profitability, we also need to check if the company generated enough cash flow to cover the dividend payment. If BP didn't generate enough cash to pay the dividend, then it must have either paid from cash in the bank or by borrowing money, neither of which is sustainable in the long term. The company paid out 92% of its free cash flow over the last year, which we think is outside the ideal range for most businesses. Companies usually need cash more than they need earnings - expenses don't pay themselves - so it's not great to see it paying out so much of its cash flow.

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

historic-dividend
historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. BP reported a loss last year, and the general trend suggests its earnings have also been declining in recent years, making us wonder if the dividend is at risk.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. BP has seen its dividend decline 2.8% per annum on average over the past 10 years, which is not great to see. While it's not great that earnings and dividends per share have fallen in recent years, we're encouraged by the fact that management has trimmed the dividend rather than risk over-committing the company in a risky attempt to maintain yields to shareholders.

We update our analysis on BP every 24 hours, so you can always get the latest insights on its financial health, here.

To Sum It Up

Should investors buy BP for the upcoming dividend? We're a bit uncomfortable with it paying a dividend while being loss-making, especially given that the dividend was not well covered by free cash flow. Overall it doesn't look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.

Although, if you're still interested in BP and want to know more, you'll find it very useful to know what risks this stock faces. For example, we've found 1 warning sign for BP that we recommend you consider before investing in the business.

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.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.