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Should Income Investors Look At Westamerica Bancorporation (NASDAQ:WABC) Before Its Ex-Dividend?

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Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Westamerica Bancorporation (NASDAQ:WABC) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next two days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before a company's record date, which is the date on which the company determines which shareholders are entitled to receive a dividend. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. Meaning, you will need to purchase Westamerica Bancorporation's shares before the 6th of May to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 20th of May.

The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.42 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$1.68 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Westamerica Bancorporation has a trailing yield of approximately 2.8% on its current stock price of $59.12. 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 Westamerica Bancorporation has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

See our latest analysis for Westamerica Bancorporation

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. Westamerica Bancorporation is paying out an acceptable 50% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies.

Companies that pay out less in dividends than they earn in profits generally have more sustainable dividends. The lower the payout ratio, the more wiggle room the business has before it could be forced to cut the dividend.

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

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historic-dividend

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 fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at Westamerica Bancorporation, with earnings per share up 7.6% on average over the last five years.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, Westamerica Bancorporation has lifted its dividend by approximately 1.6% a year on average.

To Sum It Up

Is Westamerica Bancorporation worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share have been growing at a reasonable rate, and the company is paying out a bit over half its earnings as dividends. We're unconvinced on the company's merits, and think there might be better opportunities out there.

If you want to look further into Westamerica Bancorporation, it's worth knowing the risks this business faces. Our analysis shows 1 warning sign for Westamerica Bancorporation and you should be aware of it before buying any shares.

Generally, we wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see. Here's a curated list of interesting stocks that are strong dividend payers.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.