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Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Patterson-UTI Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ:PTEN) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next four days. You will need to purchase shares before the 2nd of December to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 17th of December.
Patterson-UTI Energy's next dividend payment will be US$0.02 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.08 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Patterson-UTI Energy has a trailing yield of approximately 1.7% on its current stock price of $4.835. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
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. Patterson-UTI Energy reported a loss last year, so it's not great to see that it has continued paying a dividend. With the recent loss, it's important to check if the business generated enough cash to pay its dividend. If cash earnings don't cover the dividend, the company would have to pay dividends out of cash in the bank, or by borrowing money, neither of which is long-term sustainable. It paid out 12% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservatively low.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Patterson-UTI Energy 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.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Patterson-UTI Energy has seen its dividend decline 8.8% per annum on average over the past 10 years, which is not great to see. It's never nice to see earnings and dividends falling, but at least management has cut the dividend rather than potentially risk the company's health in an attempt to maintain it.
We update our analysis on Patterson-UTI Energy every 24 hours, so you can always get the latest insights on its financial health, here.
To Sum It Up
Should investors buy Patterson-UTI Energy for the upcoming dividend? First, it's not great to see the company paying a dividend despite being loss-making over the last year. On the plus side, the dividend was covered by free cash flow." With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of Patterson-UTI Energy.
Having said that, if you're looking at this stock without much concern for the dividend, you should still be familiar of the risks involved with Patterson-UTI Energy. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Patterson-UTI Energy (of which 1 shouldn't be ignored!) you should know about.
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.
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.
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