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Dividend Investors: Don't Be Too Quick To Buy Pan American Silver Corp. (TSE:PAAS) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you're one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that Pan American Silver Corp. (TSE:PAAS) is about to go ex-dividend in just three days. The ex-dividend date occurs one day before the record date which is the day on which shareholders need to be on the company's books in order to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is an important date to be aware of as any purchase of the stock made on or after this date might mean a late settlement that doesn't show on the record date. Thus, you can purchase Pan American Silver's shares before the 19th of August in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 2nd of September.

The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.11 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$0.44 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Pan American Silver stock has a trailing yield of around 2.4% on the current share price of CA$23.17. 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! So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for Pan American Silver

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. Pan American Silver lost money last year, so the fact that it's paying a dividend is certainly disconcerting. There might be a good reason for this, but we'd want to look into it further before getting comfortable. Considering the lack of profitability, we also need to check if the company generated enough cash flow to cover the dividend payment. 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 93% of its free cash flow in the form of dividends last year, which is outside the comfort zone 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.

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historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies that aren't growing their earnings can still be valuable, but it is even more important to assess the sustainability of the dividend if it looks like the company will struggle to grow. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Pan American Silver reported a loss last year, but at least the general trend suggests its income has been improving over the past five years. Even so, an unprofitable company whose business does not quickly recover is usually not a good candidate for dividend investors.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Pan American Silver has delivered an average of 16% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Pan American Silver's financial health, by checking our visualisation of its financial health, here.

To Sum It Up

Is Pan American Silver worth buying for its dividend? First, it's not great to see the company paying a dividend despite being loss-making over the last year. Second, the dividend was not well covered by cash flow." It's not that we think Pan American Silver 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 Pan American Silver don't faze you, it's worth being mindful of the risks involved with this business. Our analysis shows 1 warning sign for Pan American Silver and you should be aware of this before buying any shares.

A common investing mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a full list of high-yield dividend stocks.

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

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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