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Should Income Investors Look At Computer Programs and Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CPSI) Before Its Ex-Dividend?

Simply Wall St

It looks like Computer Programs and Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CPSI) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 15th of August will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 30th of August.

Computer Programs and Systems's next dividend payment will be US$0.10 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$0.40 per share. Last year's total dividend payments show that Computer Programs and Systems has a trailing yield of 1.7% on the current share price of $23.15. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Computer Programs and Systems'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 Computer Programs and Systems

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. Fortunately Computer Programs and Systems's payout ratio is modest, at just 31% of profit. 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 good news is it paid out just 18% of its free cash flow in the last year.

It's positive to see that Computer Programs and Systems'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.

NasdaqGS:CPSI Historical Dividend Yield, August 10th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. With that in mind, we're discomforted by Computer Programs and Systems's 15% per annum decline in earnings in the past five 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. Computer Programs and Systems's dividend payments per share have declined at 12% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. While it's not great that earnings and dividends per share have fallen in recent years, we're encouraged by the fact that management has trimmed the dividend rather than risk over-committing the company in a risky attempt to maintain yields to shareholders.

To Sum It Up

Is Computer Programs and Systems worth buying for its dividend? Computer Programs and Systems has comfortably low cash and profit payout ratios, which may mean the dividend is sustainable even in the face of a sharp decline in earnings per share. Still, we consider declining earnings to be a warning sign. While it does have some good things going for it, we're a bit ambivalent and it would take more to convince us of Computer Programs and Systems's dividend merits.

Wondering what the future holds for Computer Programs and Systems? See what the eight 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.