It looks like Westwood Holdings Group, Inc. (NYSE:WHG) is about to go ex-dividend in the next four 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. Accordingly, Westwood Holdings Group investors that purchase the stock on or after the 1st of December will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 3rd of January.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.15 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.60 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Westwood Holdings Group has a trailing yield of approximately 5.6% on its current stock price of $10.71. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Westwood Holdings Group's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are 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. Westwood Holdings Group paid out a disturbingly high 360% of its profit as dividends last year, which makes us concerned there's something we don't fully understand in the business.
Generally, the higher a company's payout ratio, the more the dividend is at risk of being reduced.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Westwood Holdings Group's earnings have collapsed faster than Wile E Coyote's schemes to trap the Road Runner; down a tremendous 43% 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. Westwood Holdings Group's dividend payments per share have declined at 8.6% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. It's never nice to see earnings and dividends falling, but at least management has cut the dividend rather than potentially risk the company's health in an attempt to maintain it.
The Bottom Line
Should investors buy Westwood Holdings Group for the upcoming dividend? Earnings per share are in decline and Westwood Holdings Group is paying out what we feel is an uncomfortably high percentage of its profit as dividends. It's not that we hate the business, but we feel that these characeristics are not desirable for investors seeking a reliable dividend stock to own for the long term. These characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance, and investors may not be happy with the results of owning this stock for its dividend.
With that in mind though, if the poor dividend characteristics of Westwood Holdings Group don't faze you, it's worth being mindful of the risks involved with this business. For instance, we've identified 5 warning signs for Westwood Holdings Group (1 is concerning) you should be aware of.
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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