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Should Income Investors Look At Rotork plc (LON:ROR) Before Its Ex-Dividend?

Simply Wall St

Rotork plc (LON:ROR) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 29th of August will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 27th of September.

Rotork's next dividend payment will be UK£0.023 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed UK£0.059 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Rotork stock has a trailing yield of around 1.9% on the current share price of £3.043. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Rotork's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for Rotork

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. Rotork paid out more than half (58%) 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 distributed 45% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.

It's positive to see that Rotork'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.

LSE:ROR Historical Dividend Yield, August 25th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies that aren't growing their earnings can still be valuable, but it is even more important to assess the sustainability of the dividend if it looks like the company will struggle to grow. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. That explains why we're not overly excited about Rotork's flat earnings over the past five years. It's better than seeing them drop, certainly, but over the long term, all of the best dividend stocks are able to meaningfully grow their earnings per share.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, Rotork has lifted its dividend by approximately 8.5% a year on average.

The Bottom Line

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Rotork? We're not enthused by the flat earnings per share, although at least the company's payout ratio is within reasonable bounds. Additionally, it paid out a lower percentage of its free cash flow, so at least it generated more cash than it spent on dividends. While it does have some good things going for it, we're a bit ambivalent and it would take more to convince us of Rotork's dividend merits.

Wondering what the future holds for Rotork? See what the 17 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.