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CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in four days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 12th of February will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 26th of February.
CF Industries Holdings's next dividend payment will be US$0.30 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$1.20 per share. Last year's total dividend payments show that CF Industries Holdings has a trailing yield of 2.8% on the current share price of $43.14. 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! That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
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. Last year, CF Industries Holdings paid out 91% of its income as dividends, which is above a level that we're comfortable with, especially if the company needs to reinvest in its business. 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 28% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
It's good to see that while CF Industries Holdings's dividends were not well covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if this were to happen repeatedly, we'd be concerned about whether the dividend is sustainable in a downturn.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. CF Industries Holdings's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 25% a year over the previous 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. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, CF Industries Holdings has lifted its dividend by approximately 31% a year on average. That's intriguing, but the combination of growing dividends despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out a larger percentage of profits. CF Industries Holdings is already paying out 91% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.
To Sum It Up
Should investors buy CF Industries Holdings for the upcoming dividend? It's never great to see earnings per share declining, especially when a company is paying out 91% of its profit as dividends, which we feel is uncomfortably high. Yet cashflow was much stronger, which makes us wonder if there are some large timing issues in CF Industries Holdings's cash flows, or perhaps the company has written down some assets aggressively, reducing its income. It's not that we think CF Industries Holdings is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.
So if you're still interested in CF Industries Holdings despite it's poor dividend qualities, you should be well informed on some of the risks facing this stock. For example - CF Industries Holdings has 4 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
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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