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It looks like Guess', Inc. (NYSE:GES) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 15th of December in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 4th of January.
Guess''s upcoming dividend is US$0.11 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.45 per share to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Guess' stock has a trailing yield of around 2.3% on the current share price of $19.24. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. So we need to investigate whether Guess' can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.
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. Guess' reported a loss after tax last year, which means it's paying a dividend despite being unprofitable. While this might be a one-off event, this is unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. Given that the company reported a loss last year, we now need to see if it generated enough free cash flow to fund the dividend. 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. Luckily it paid out just 5.3% of its free cash flow last year.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Guess' was unprofitable last year and, unfortunately, the general trend suggests its earnings have been in decline over the last five 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. Guess' has seen its dividend decline 3.5% per annum on average over the past 10 years, which is not great to see. 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.
The Bottom Line
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Guess'? First, it's not great to see the company paying a dividend despite being loss-making over the last year. On the plus side, the dividend was covered by free cash flow." With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of Guess'.
Although, if you're still interested in Guess' and want to know more, you'll find it very useful to know what risks this stock faces. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Guess' (of which 1 doesn't sit too well with us!) you should know about.
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.
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. 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.
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