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Don't Race Out To Buy Ober SA (EPA:ALOBR) Just Because It's Going Ex-Dividend

Simply Wall St

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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 Ober SA (EPA:ALOBR) is about to go ex-dividend in just 3 days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 24th of July will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 26th of July.

Ober's next dividend payment will be €0.50 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of €0.70 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Ober stock has a trailing yield of around 6.7% on the current share price of €10.5. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Ober's dividend is reliable and sustainable. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.

View our latest analysis for Ober

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Ober paid out 150% of profit in the past year, which we think is typically not sustainable unless there are mitigating characteristics such as unusually strong cash flow or a large cash balance. 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. It paid out 86% 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.

It's disappointing to see that the dividend was not covered by profits, but cash is more important from a dividend sustainability perspective, and Ober fortunately did generate enough cash to fund its dividend. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we'd be concerned. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.

Click here to see how much of its profit Ober paid out over the last 12 months.

ENXTPA:ALOBR Historical Dividend Yield, July 20th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. With that in mind, we're discomforted by Ober's 8.8% per annum decline in earnings in the past five years. Such a sharp decline casts doubt on the future sustainability of the dividend.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Ober's dividend payments per share have declined at 1.7% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring.

Final Takeaway

Is Ober an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? It's never fun to see a company's earnings per share in retreat. Worse, Ober's paying out a majority of its earnings and more than half its free cash flow. Positive cash flows are good news but it's not a good combination. It's not that we think Ober is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.

Keen to explore more data on Ober's financial performance? Check out our visualisation of its historical revenue and earnings growth.

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.