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Don't Race Out To Buy Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE:ETM) Just Because It's Going Ex-Dividend

Simply Wall St

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 Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE:ETM) is about to go ex-dividend in just 3 days. You can purchase shares before the 28th of August in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 13th of September.

Entercom Communications's upcoming dividend is US$0.02 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.36 per share to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Entercom Communications has a trailing yield of 2.3% on the current stock price of $3.53. 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! We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.

View our latest analysis for Entercom Communications

Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. Entercom Communications reported a loss last year, so it's not great to see that it has continued paying a dividend. Considering the lack of profitability, we also need to check if the company generated enough cash flow to cover the dividend payment. If cash earnings don't cover the dividend, the company would have to pay dividends out of cash in the bank, or by borrowing money, neither of which is long-term sustainable. It paid out 81% of its free cash flow as dividends, which is within usual limits but will limit the company's ability to lift the dividend if there's no growth.

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

NYSE:ETM Historical Dividend Yield, August 24th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Entercom Communications was unprofitable last year and, unfortunately, the general trend suggests its earnings have been in decline over the last 5 years, making us wonder if the dividend is sustainable at all.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Entercom Communications's dividend payments per share have declined at 36% per year on average over the past 3 years, which is uninspiring. While it's not great that earnings and dividends per share have fallen in recent years, we're encouraged by the fact that management has trimmed the dividend rather than risk over-committing the company in a risky attempt to maintain yields to shareholders.

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

To Sum It Up

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Entercom Communications? We're a bit uncomfortable with it paying a dividend while being loss-making. However, we note that the dividend was covered by cash flow. It's not that we think Entercom Communications is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Entercom Communications? See what the three analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

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.