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Dividend Investors: Don't Be Too Quick To Buy Global Medical REIT Inc. (NYSE:GMRE) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Simply Wall St

Global Medical REIT Inc. (NYSE:GMRE) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 3 days time. If you purchase the stock on or after the 24th of September, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 10th of October.

Global Medical REIT's next dividend payment will be US$0.2 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$0.8 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Global Medical REIT has a trailing yield of 6.9% on the current stock price of $11.66. 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 Global Medical REIT

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Global Medical REIT paid out 126% 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. For regulatory reasons, it's not uncommon to see REITs paying out around 100% of their earnings. However, we feel Global Medical REIT's payout ratio is still too high, and we wonder if the dividend is being funded by debt. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. It paid out 109% 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.

Cash is slightly more important than profit from a dividend perspective, but given Global Medical REIT's payments were not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we are concerned about the sustainability of this dividend.

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

NYSE:GMRE Historical Dividend Yield, September 20th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Global Medical REIT's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 20% a year over the previous five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.

Global Medical REIT also issued more than 5% of its market cap in new stock during the past year, which we feel is likely to hurt its dividend prospects in the long run. It's hard to grow dividends per share when a company keeps creating new shares.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Global Medical REIT has delivered 19% dividend growth per year on average over the past five years. The only way to pay higher dividends when earnings are shrinking is either to pay out a larger percentage of profits, spend cash from the balance sheet, or borrow the money. Global Medical REIT is already paying out 126% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.

Final Takeaway

Should investors buy Global Medical REIT for the upcoming dividend? It's looking like an unattractive opportunity, with its earnings per share declining, while, paying out an uncomfortably high percentage of both its profits (126%) and cash flow (109%) as dividends. This is a clearly suboptimal combination that usually suggests the dividend is at risk of being cut. If not now, then perhaps in the future. It's not an attractive combination from a dividend perspective, and we're inclined to pass on this one for the time being.

Curious what other investors think of Global Medical REIT? See what analysts are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow.

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.

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.