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Should Income Investors Look At Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW) Before Its Ex-Dividend?

Simply Wall St

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Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 23rd of July in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 7th of August.

Lowe's Companies's next dividend payment will be US$0.55 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$2.20 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Lowe's Companies has a trailing yield of 2.1% on the current share price of $103.75. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. As a result, readers should always check whether Lowe's Companies has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

See our latest analysis for Lowe's Companies

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. Lowe's Companies paid out more than half (65%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. 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. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 40% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.

It's positive to see that Lowe's Companies'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:LOW Historical Dividend Yield, July 19th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at Lowe's Companies, with earnings per share up 6.5% on average over the last five years. While earnings have been growing at a credible rate, the company is paying out a majority of its earnings to shareholders. If management lifts the payout ratio further, we'd take this as a tacit signal that the company's growth prospects are slowing.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Lowe's Companies has delivered 21% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.

To Sum It Up

Is Lowe's Companies worth buying for its dividend? While earnings per share growth has been modest, Lowe's Companies's dividend payouts are around an average level; without a sharp change in earnings we feel that the dividend is likely somewhat sustainable. Pleasingly the company paid out a conservatively low percentage of its free cash flow. Overall, it's not a bad combination, but we feel that there are likely more attractive dividend prospects out there.

Wondering what the future holds for Lowe's Companies? See what the 29 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.