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It looks like Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) is about to go ex-dividend in the next four days. The ex-dividend date is usually set to be one business day before the record date which is the cut-off date on which you must be present on the company's books as a shareholder in order to receive the dividend. The ex-dividend date is important as the process of settlement involves two full business days. So if you miss that date, you would not show up on the company's books on the record date. Therefore, if you purchase Best Buy's shares on or after the 13th of December, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 4th of January.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.70 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$2.80 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Best Buy has a trailing yield of approximately 2.6% on its current stock price of $106.68. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. That's why it's good to see Best Buy paying out a modest 27% of its earnings. 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. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 49% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
It's positive to see that Best Buy's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. That's why it's comforting to see Best Buy's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 36% per annum for the past five years. Best Buy is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow, while simultaneously growing earnings per share at a rapid clip. Companies with growing earnings and low payout ratios are often the best long-term dividend stocks, as the company can both grow its earnings and increase the percentage of earnings that it pays out, essentially multiplying the dividend.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the last 10 years, Best Buy has lifted its dividend by approximately 17% a year on average. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.
To Sum It Up
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Best Buy? We love that Best Buy is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. These characteristics suggest the company is reinvesting in growing its business, while the conservative payout ratio also implies a reduced risk of the dividend being cut in the future. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.
While it's tempting to invest in Best Buy for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. For example, Best Buy has 3 warning signs (and 2 which make us uncomfortable) we think you should know about.
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.
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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.