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Income Investors Should Know That PetMed Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETS) Goes Ex-Dividend Soon

Simply Wall St

PetMed Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETS) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 1st of August, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 9th of August.

PetMed Express's upcoming dividend is US$0.27 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.08 per share to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, PetMed Express has a trailing yield of approximately 6.8% on its current stock price of $15.98. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for PetMed Express

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. PetMed Express paid out more than half (72%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. The company paid out 99% of its free cash flow over the last year, which we think is outside the ideal range for most businesses. Cash flows are usually much more volatile than earnings, so this could be a temporary effect - but we'd generally want look more closely here.

While PetMed Express'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 PetMed Express's ability to maintain its dividend.

Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

NasdaqGS:PETS Historical Dividend Yield, July 28th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Fortunately for readers, PetMed Express's earnings per share have been growing at 11% a year for the past five years. Earnings have been growing at a decent rate, but we're concerned dividend payments consumed most of the company's cash flow over the past year.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. PetMed Express has delivered 10% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. Both per-share earnings and dividends have both been growing rapidly in recent times, which is great to see.

The Bottom Line

Is PetMed Express worth buying for its dividend? The best dividend stocks typically boast a long history of growing earnings per share (EPS) via a combination of earnings growth and buybacks. So, you might think that PetMed Express buying back stock, growing its EPS, and retaining profits within its business is a good combination. However, we note with some concern that it paid out 99% of its free cash flow last year, which is uncomfortably high and makes us wonder why the company chose to spend even more cash on buybacks. While it does have some good things going for it, we're a bit ambivalent and it would take more to convince us of PetMed Express's dividend merits.

Wondering what the future holds for PetMed Express? See what the three analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.