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Don't Race Out To Buy SIA Engineering Company Limited (SGX:S59) Just Because It's Going Ex-Dividend

Simply Wall St

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SIA Engineering Company Limited (SGX:S59) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 2 days time. You can purchase shares before the 24th of July in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 8th of August.

SIA Engineering's next dividend payment will be S$0.08 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of S$0.11 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, SIA Engineering has a trailing yield of 3.9% on the current stock price of SGD2.79. 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! As a result, readers should always check whether SIA Engineering has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

See our latest analysis for SIA Engineering

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. It paid out 77% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. It could become a concern if earnings started to decline. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. Over the last year, it paid out dividends equivalent to 293% of what it generated in free cash flow, a disturbingly high percentage. Unless there were something in the business we're not grasping, this could signal a risk that the dividend may have to be cut in the future.

SIA Engineering does have a large net cash position on the balance sheet, which could fund large dividends for a time, if the company so chose. Still, smart investors know that it is better to assess dividends relative to the cash and profit generated by the business. Paying dividends out of cash on the balance sheet is not long-term sustainable.

While SIA Engineering's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, cash is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to SIA Engineering's ability to maintain its dividend.

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

SGX:S59 Historical Dividend Yield, July 21st 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. With that in mind, we're discomforted by SIA Engineering's 9.6% per annum decline in earnings in 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. SIA Engineering has delivered 1.0% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years.

Final Takeaway

Has SIA Engineering got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? SIA Engineering had an average payout ratio, but its free cash flow was lower and earnings per share have been declining. It's not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we'd probably give this one a miss for now.

Wondering what the future holds for SIA Engineering? See what the six analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top 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.