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Don't Buy Enbridge Inc. (TSE:ENB) For Its Next Dividend Without Doing These Checks

Simply Wall St

Readers hoping to buy Enbridge Inc. (TSE:ENB) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You can purchase shares before the 13th of February in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 1st of March.

Enbridge's next dividend payment will be CA$0.81 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of CA$2.95 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Enbridge stock has a trailing yield of around 5.8% on the current share price of CA$56.13. 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 investigate whether Enbridge can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

Check out our latest analysis for Enbridge

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. Enbridge paid out 100% of its earnings, which is more than we're comfortable with, unless there are mitigating circumstances. 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. Enbridge paid out more free cash flow than it generated - 170%, to be precise - last year, which we think is concerningly high. We're curious about why the company paid out more cash than it generated last year, since this can be one of the early signs that a dividend may be unsustainable.

Cash is slightly more important than profit from a dividend perspective, but given Enbridge's payouts were not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we would be concerned about the sustainability of this dividend.

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

TSX:ENB Historical Dividend Yield, February 8th 2020

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. It's encouraging to see Enbridge has grown its earnings rapidly, up 39% a year for the past five years. Earnings per share are increasing at a rapid rate, but the company is paying out more than we are comfortable with, based on current earnings. 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.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Enbridge has delivered 16% dividend growth per year on average over the past ten years. Both per-share earnings and dividends have both been growing rapidly in recent times, which is great to see.

The Bottom Line

Is Enbridge worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share have been growing, despite the company paying out a concerningly high percentage of its earnings and cashflow. We struggle to see how a company paying out so much of its earnings and cash flow will be able to sustain its dividend in a downturn, or reinvest enough into its business to continue growing earnings without borrowing heavily. With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of Enbridge.

Wondering what the future holds for Enbridge? See what the 12 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.

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.

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