Readers hoping to buy Metlifecare Limited (NZSE:MET) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You can purchase shares before the 12th of September in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 20th of September.
Metlifecare's next dividend payment will be NZ$0.072 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed NZ$0.11 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Metlifecare has a trailing yield of 2.5% on the current share price of NZ$4.48. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. Metlifecare paid out more than half (60%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. 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. It paid out 24% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservatively low.
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?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. With that in mind, we're discomforted by Metlifecare's 11% per annum decline in earnings in the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.
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, 7 years ago, Metlifecare has lifted its dividend by approximately 28% a year on average. That's interesting, but the combination of a growing dividend despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out more of the company's profits. This can be valuable for shareholders, but it can't go on forever.
Has Metlifecare got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? 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. Overall, it's hard to get excited about Metlifecare from a dividend perspective.
Ever wonder what the future holds for Metlifecare? See what the five analysts we track 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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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.