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Don't Race Out To Buy Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. (NYSE:ARGO) Just Because It's Going Ex-Dividend

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Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. (NYSE:ARGO) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 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. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. This means that investors who purchase Argo Group International Holdings' shares on or after the 30th of August will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of September.

The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.31 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$1.24 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Argo Group International Holdings has a trailing yield of 2.3% on the current stock price of $53.77. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Argo Group International Holdings

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. Argo Group International Holdings paid out 66% of its earnings to investors last year, a normal payout level for most businesses.

When a company paid out less in dividends than it earned in profit, this generally suggests its dividend is affordable. The lower the % of its profit that it pays out, the greater the margin of safety for the dividend if the business enters a downturn.

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 falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Argo Group International Holdings's earnings per share have dropped 16% a year over the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Argo Group International Holdings has delivered 15% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. That's interesting, but the combination of a growing dividend despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out more of the company's profits. This can be valuable for shareholders, but it can't go on forever.

The Bottom Line

Should investors buy Argo Group International Holdings for the upcoming dividend? Earnings per share have been declining and the company is paying out more than half its profits to shareholders; not an enticing combination. All things considered, we're not optimistic about its dividend prospects, and would be inclined to leave it on the shelf for now.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Argo Group International Holdings? See what the five 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.

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.

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