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Don't Buy HollyFrontier Corporation (NYSE:HFC) For Its Next Dividend Without Doing These Checks

Simply Wall St
·4 min read

Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you're one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that HollyFrontier Corporation (NYSE:HFC) is about to go ex-dividend in just four days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 20th of November will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 7th of December.

HollyFrontier's upcoming dividend is US$0.35 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.40 per share to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, HollyFrontier has a trailing yield of approximately 6.3% on its current stock price of $22.14. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether HollyFrontier's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to investigate whether HollyFrontier can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

See our latest analysis for HollyFrontier

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. HollyFrontier's dividend is not well covered by earnings, as the company lost money last year. This is not a sustainable state of affairs, so it would be worth investigating if earnings are expected to recover. Considering the lack of profitability, we also need to check if the company generated enough cash flow to cover the dividend payment. If HollyFrontier didn't generate enough cash to pay the dividend, then it must have either paid from cash in the bank or by borrowing money, neither of which is sustainable in the long term. It paid out 106% 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.

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

historic-dividend
historic-dividend

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 business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. HollyFrontier reported a loss last year, but at least the general trend suggests its income has been improving over the past five years. Even so, an unprofitable company whose business does not quickly recover is usually not a good candidate for dividend investors.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. HollyFrontier has delivered an average of 17% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.

We update our analysis on HollyFrontier every 24 hours, so you can always get the latest insights on its financial health, here.

To Sum It Up

Is HollyFrontier an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? First, it's not great to see the company paying a dividend despite being loss-making over the last year. Second, the dividend was not well covered by cash flow." Overall it doesn't look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.

So if you're still interested in HollyFrontier despite it's poor dividend qualities, you should be well informed on some of the risks facing this stock. For example, HollyFrontier has 2 warning signs (and 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) we think you should know about.

A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.

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. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com.