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Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see WD-40 Company (NASDAQ:WDFC) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next three days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date, which is the cut-off date for shareholders to be present on the company's books to be eligible for a dividend payment. 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. Meaning, you will need to purchase WD-40's shares before the 14th of July to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 29th of July.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.78 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$3.12 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that WD-40 has a trailing yield of 1.8% on the current share price of $174.3. 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 from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. WD-40 paid out 69% of its earnings to investors last year, a normal payout level for most businesses. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. Over the last year, it paid out dividends equivalent to 242% of what it generated in free cash flow, a disturbingly high percentage. Unless there were something in the business we're not grasping, this could signal a risk that the dividend may have to be cut in the future.
While WD-40's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, cash is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to WD-40's ability to maintain its dividend.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at WD-40, with earnings per share up 4.0% on average over the last five years. Earnings have been growing somewhat, but we're concerned dividend payments consumed most of the company's cash flow over the past year.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. WD-40 has delivered an average of 11% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.
The Bottom Line
Should investors buy WD-40 for the upcoming dividend? WD-40 is paying out a reasonable percentage of its income and an uncomfortably high 242% of its cash flow as dividends. At least earnings per share have been growing steadily. With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of WD-40.
Although, if you're still interested in WD-40 and want to know more, you'll find it very useful to know what risks this stock faces. To help with this, we've discovered 2 warning signs for WD-40 that you should be aware of before investing in their shares.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.
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