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Here's Why We're Wary Of Buying Animalcare Group's (LON:ANCR) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Simply Wall St
·4 mins read

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 Animalcare Group plc (LON:ANCR) is about to go ex-dividend in just 3 days. You will need to purchase shares before the 22nd of October to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 20th of November.

Animalcare Group's upcoming dividend is UK£0.02 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of UK£0.04 per share to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Animalcare Group has a trailing yield of approximately 2.2% on its current stock price of £1.85. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Animalcare Group's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for Animalcare Group

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. Animalcare Group distributed an unsustainably high 168% of its profit as dividends to shareholders last year. Without more sustainable payment behaviour, the dividend looks precarious. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. It distributed 28% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.

It's good to see that while Animalcare Group's dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we'd be concerned. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.

Click here to see how much of its profit Animalcare Group paid out over the last 12 months.


Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Animalcare Group's earnings have collapsed faster than Wile E Coyote's schemes to trap the Road Runner; down a tremendous 31% a year over the past five years.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Animalcare Group's dividend payments are broadly unchanged compared to where they were two years ago. If a company's dividend stays flat while earnings are in decline, this is typically a sign that it is paying out a larger percentage of its earnings. This can become unsustainable if earnings fall far enough.

To Sum It Up

Should investors buy Animalcare Group for the upcoming dividend? It's not a great combination to see a company with earnings in decline and paying out 168% of its profits, which could imply the dividend may be at risk of being cut in the future. Yet cashflow was much stronger, which makes us wonder if there are some large timing issues in Animalcare Group's cash flows, or perhaps the company has written down some assets aggressively, reducing its income. It's not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we'd probably give this one a miss for now.

So if you're still interested in Animalcare Group despite it's poor dividend qualities, you should be well informed on some of the risks facing this stock. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Animalcare Group you should be aware of.

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.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com.