U.S. Markets close in 28 mins

Dividend Investors: Don't Be Too Quick To Buy Flight Centre Travel Group Limited (ASX:FLT) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Simply Wall St

It looks like Flight Centre Travel Group Limited (ASX:FLT) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. You can purchase shares before the 12th of September in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 11th of October.

Flight Centre Travel Group's next dividend payment will be AU$0.98 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed AU$1.58 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Flight Centre Travel Group has a trailing yield of 3.3% on the current stock price of A$47.93. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Flight Centre Travel Group's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for Flight Centre Travel Group

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Flight Centre Travel Group is paying out an acceptable 60% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies. 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. The company paid out 95% of its free cash flow over the last year, which we think is outside the ideal range 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.

While Flight Centre Travel Group'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. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to Flight Centre Travel Group's ability to maintain its dividend.

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

ASX:FLT Historical Dividend Yield, September 7th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at Flight Centre Travel Group, with earnings per share up 4.9% on average over the last five years. Earnings have been growing somewhat, but we're concerned dividend payments consumed most of the company's cash flow over the past year.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, Flight Centre Travel Group has lifted its dividend by approximately 11% 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

Has Flight Centre Travel Group got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Flight Centre Travel Group is paying out a reasonable percentage of its income and an uncomfortably high 95% of its cash flow as dividends. At least earnings per share have been growing steadily. It's not an attractive combination from a dividend perspective, and we're inclined to pass on this one for the time being.

Wondering what the future holds for Flight Centre Travel Group? See what the 13 analysts we track 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.