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Dividend Investors: Don't Be Too Quick To Buy Fox Corporation (NASDAQ:FOXA) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Simply Wall St

Readers hoping to buy Fox Corporation (NASDAQ:FOXA) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. If you purchase the stock on or after the 3rd of September, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 2nd of October.

Fox's next dividend payment will be US$0.23 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$0.46 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Fox has a trailing yield of 1.4% on the current stock price of $32.74. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.

View our latest analysis for Fox

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. Fox is paying out just 9.0% of its profit after tax, which is comfortably low and leaves plenty of breathing room in the case of adverse events. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Fox generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out an unsustainably high 292% of its free cash flow as dividends over the past 12 months, which is worrying. Our definition of free cash flow excludes cash generated from asset sales, so since Fox is paying out such a high percentage of its cash flow, it might be worth seeing if it sold assets or had similar events that might have led to such a high dividend payment.

While Fox's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, cash is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Cash is king, as they say, and were Fox to repeatedly pay dividends that aren't well covered by cashflow, we would consider this a warning sign.

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

NasdaqGS:FOXA Historical Dividend Yield, August 30th 2019

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. From this perspective, we're disturbed to see earnings per share plunged 27% over the last 12 months, and we'd wonder if the company has had some kind of major event that has skewed the calculation.

This is Fox's first year of paying a dividend, so it doesn't have much of a history yet to compare to.

Final Takeaway

Has Fox got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's disappointing to see earnings per share declining, and this would ordinarily be enough to discourage us from most dividend stocks, even though Fox is paying out less than half its income as dividends. However, it's also paying out an uncomfortably high percentage of its cash flow, which makes us wonder just how sustainable the dividend really is. It's not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we'd probably give this one a miss for now.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Fox? See what the 19 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.