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Dividend Investors: Don't Be Too Quick To Buy TC Energy Corporation (TSE:TRP) For Its Upcoming Dividend

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·4 min read
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TC Energy Corporation (TSE:TRP) 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 important as the process of settlement involves two full business days. So if you miss that date, you would not show up on the company's books on the record date. Meaning, you will need to purchase TC Energy's shares before the 29th of June to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 29th of July.

The company's next dividend payment will be CA$0.90 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of CA$3.60 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, TC Energy stock has a trailing yield of around 5.4% on the current share price of CA$66.81. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to investigate whether TC Energy can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

Check out our latest analysis for TC Energy

Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. TC Energy paid out 106% of its earnings, which is more than we're comfortable with, unless there are mitigating circumstances. 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 an unsustainably high 310% of its free cash flow as dividends over the past 12 months, which is worrying. Unless there were something in the business we're not grasping, this could signal a risk that the dividend may have to be cut in the future.

Cash is slightly more important than profit from a dividend perspective, but given TC Energy'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.


Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. That's why it's comforting to see TC Energy's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 82% per annum for the past five years. TC Energy's dividend was not well covered by earnings, although at least its earnings per share are growing quickly. Generally, when a company is growing this quickly and paying out all of its earnings as dividends, it can suggest either that the company is borrowing heavily to fund its growth, or that earnings growth is likely to slow due to lack of reinvestment.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, TC Energy has lifted its dividend by approximately 7.9% a year on average. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.

Final Takeaway

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid TC Energy? While it's nice to see earnings per share growing, we're curious about how TC Energy intends to continue growing, or maintain the dividend in a downturn given that it's paying out such a high percentage of its earnings and cashflow. With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of TC Energy.

Although, if you're still interested in TC Energy and want to know more, you'll find it very useful to know what risks this stock faces. For example - TC Energy has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

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.