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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 S&T Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:STBA) is about to go ex-dividend in just 4 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 10th of February in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 25th of February.
S&T Bancorp's next dividend payment will be US$0.28 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$1.12 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that S&T Bancorp has a trailing yield of 4.1% on the current share price of $27.65. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Last year, S&T Bancorp paid out 208% of its profit to shareholders in the form of dividends. This is not sustainable behaviour and requires a closer look on behalf of the purchaser.
When the dividend payout ratio is high, as it is in this case, the dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut in the future.
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. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see S&T Bancorp's earnings per share have dropped 23% a year over the past five years. Such a sharp decline casts doubt on the future sustainability of the dividend.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. S&T Bancorp has delivered an average of 6.4% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. The only way to pay higher dividends when earnings are shrinking is either to pay out a larger percentage of profits, spend cash from the balance sheet, or borrow the money. S&T Bancorp is already paying out a high percentage of its income, so without earnings growth, we're doubtful of whether this dividend will grow much in the future.
Is S&T Bancorp worth buying for its dividend? Not only are earnings per share shrinking, but S&T Bancorp is paying out a disconcertingly high percentage of its profit as dividends. Generally we think dividend investors should avoid businesses in this situation, as high payout ratios and declining earnings can lead to the dividend being cut. S&T Bancorp doesn't appear to have a lot going for it, and we're not inclined to take a risk on owning it for the dividend.
With that in mind though, if the poor dividend characteristics of S&T Bancorp don't faze you, it's worth being mindful of the risks involved with this business. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for S&T Bancorp you should know about.
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.
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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