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Here's Why We're Wary Of Buying Magna International's (TSE:MG) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Simply Wall St
·4 min 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 Magna International Inc. (TSE:MG) is about to go ex-dividend in just 4 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 19th of November in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 4th of December.

Magna International's next dividend payment will be US$0.40 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$1.60 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Magna International stock has a trailing yield of around 2.7% on the current share price of CA$78.28. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Magna International's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

Check out our latest analysis for Magna International

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Last year, Magna International paid out 105% 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. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Magna International generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. Fortunately, it paid out only 29% of its free cash flow in the past year.

It's good to see that while Magna International'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 the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

historic-dividend
historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. With that in mind, we're discomforted by Magna International's 19% per annum decline in earnings in the past five years. Such a sharp decline casts doubt on the future sustainability of the dividend.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, Magna International has lifted its dividend by approximately 24% 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. Magna International is already paying out 105% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.

The Bottom Line

Has Magna International got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's never great to see earnings per share declining, especially when a company is paying out 105% 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 Magna International's cash flows, or perhaps the company has written down some assets aggressively, reducing its income. It's not that we think Magna International is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.

Having said that, if you're looking at this stock without much concern for the dividend, you should still be familiar of the risks involved with Magna International. To help with this, we've discovered 4 warning signs for Magna International that you should be aware of before investing in their shares.

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.

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