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Dividend Investors: Don't Be Too Quick To Buy RE/MAX Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:RMAX) For Its Upcoming Dividend

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RE/MAX Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:RMAX) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 4 days. You can purchase shares before the 2nd of March in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 17th of March.

RE/MAX Holdings's next dividend payment will be US$0.23 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$0.88 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, RE/MAX Holdings stock has a trailing yield of around 2.2% on the current share price of $41.17. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.

See our latest analysis for RE/MAX Holdings

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. RE/MAX Holdings paid out 125% of profit in the past year, which we think is typically not sustainable unless there are mitigating characteristics such as unusually strong cash flow or a large cash balance. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. Fortunately, it paid out only 27% of its free cash flow in the past year.

It's disappointing to see that the dividend was not covered by profits, but cash is more important from a dividend sustainability perspective, and RE/MAX Holdings fortunately did generate enough cash to fund its dividend. If executives were to continue paying more in dividends than the company reported in profits, we'd view this as a warning sign. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.

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 business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see RE/MAX Holdings's earnings per share have dropped 9.7% a year over the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the last seven years, RE/MAX Holdings has lifted its dividend by approximately 20% a year on average. That's intriguing, but the combination of growing dividends despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out a larger percentage of profits. RE/MAX Holdings is already paying out a high percentage of its income, so without earnings growth, we're doubtful of whether this dividend will grow much in the future.

Final Takeaway

Has RE/MAX Holdings got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's not a great combination to see a company with earnings in decline and paying out 125% of its profits, which could imply the dividend may be at risk of being cut in the future. Yet cashflow was much stronger, which makes us wonder if there are some large timing issues in RE/MAX Holdings's cash flows, or perhaps the company has written down some assets aggressively, reducing its income. It's not that we think RE/MAX Holdings is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.

With that in mind though, if the poor dividend characteristics of RE/MAX Holdings don't faze you, it's worth being mindful of the risks involved with this business. Our analysis shows 6 warning signs for RE/MAX Holdings and you should be aware of these before buying any shares.

A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising 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.