High Liner Foods Incorporated (TSE:HLF) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 29th of August will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of September.
High Liner Foods's next dividend payment will be US$0.05 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$0.15 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that High Liner Foods has a trailing yield of 1.8% on the current share price of CA$10.8. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether High Liner Foods'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. High Liner Foods paid out 62% of its earnings to investors last year, a normal payout level for most businesses. 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. Luckily it paid out just 16% of its free cash flow last year.
It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. High Liner Foods's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 11% a year over the previous 5 years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. High Liner Foods has delivered an average of 4.6% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. Growing the dividend payout ratio while earnings are declining can deliver nice returns for a while, but it's always worth checking for when the company can't increase the payout ratio any more - because then the music stops.
The Bottom Line
Is High Liner Foods worth buying for its dividend? The payout ratios are within a reasonable range, implying the dividend may be sustainable. Declining earnings are a serious concern, however, and could pose a threat to the dividend in future. While it does have some good things going for it, we're a bit ambivalent and it would take more to convince us of High Liner Foods's dividend merits.
Curious what other investors think of High Liner Foods? See what analysts are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow .
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.
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