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Income Investors Should Know That Saul Centers, Inc. (NYSE:BFS) Goes Ex-Dividend Soon

Simply Wall St

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Readers hoping to buy Saul Centers, Inc. (NYSE:BFS) 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 16th of July in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 31st of July.

Saul Centers's next dividend payment will be US$0.53 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$2.12 to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Saul Centers has a trailing yield of 3.9% on the current share price of $54.97. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! As a result, readers should always check whether Saul Centers has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

View our latest analysis for Saul Centers

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. Saul Centers paid out more than half (59%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. That said, REITs are often required by law to distribute all of their earnings, and it's not unusual to see a REIT with a payout ratio around 100%. We wouldn't read too much into this. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Saul Centers generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out more than half (50%) of its free cash flow in the past year, which is within an average range for most companies.

It's positive to see that Saul Centers's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

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

NYSE:BFS Historical Dividend Yield, July 12th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. It's encouraging to see Saul Centers has grown its earnings rapidly, up 25% a year for the past five years.

Management appears to be striking a nice balance between reinvesting for growth and paying dividends to shareholders. Earnings per share have been growing quickly and in combination with some reinvestment and a middling payout ratio, the stock may have decent dividend prospects going forwards.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Saul Centers has increased its dividend at approximately 1.2% a year on average. It's good to see both earnings and the dividend have improved - although the former has been rising much quicker than the latter, possibly due to the company reinvesting more of its profits in growth.

Final Takeaway

Should investors buy Saul Centers for the upcoming dividend? Higher earnings per share generally lead to higher dividends from dividend-paying stocks over the long run. However, we'd also note that Saul Centers is paying out more than half of its earnings and cash flow as profits, which could limit the dividend growth if earnings growth slows. In summary, while it has some positive characteristics, we're not inclined to race out and buy Saul Centers today.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Saul Centers? See what the two analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

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.