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Deluxe Corporation (NYSE:DLX) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 3 days. Typically, the ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date which is the date on which a company determines the shareholders eligible to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is of consequence because whenever a stock is bought or sold, the trade takes at least two business day to settle. This means that investors who purchase Deluxe's shares on or after the 20th of August will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 7th of September.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.30 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$1.20 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Deluxe has a trailing yield of 2.9% on the current share price of $42.07. 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.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Deluxe is paying out an acceptable 54% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies. 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. It paid out more than half (52%) of its free cash flow in the past year, which is within an average range for most companies.
It's positive to see that Deluxe's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Deluxe's earnings per share have dropped 13% a year over the past five years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Deluxe has delivered an average of 1.8% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments.
To Sum It Up
Has Deluxe got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's never good to see earnings per share shrinking, but at least the dividend payout ratios appear reasonable. We're aware though that if earnings continue to decline, the dividend could be at risk. With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of Deluxe.
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 Deluxe. Our analysis shows 2 warning signs for Deluxe that we strongly recommend you have a look at before investing in the company.
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. 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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