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Just 3 Days Before Realty Income Corporation (NYSE:O) Will Be Trading Ex-Dividend

Simply Wall St

Realty Income Corporation (NYSE:O) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 3 days time. Investors can purchase shares before the 31st of July in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of August.

Realty Income's upcoming dividend is US$0.23 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$2.71 per share to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Realty Income stock has a trailing yield of around 3.9% on the current share price of $69.54. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Realty Income's dividend is reliable and sustainable. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.

Check out our latest analysis for Realty Income

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. Its dividend payout ratio is 84% of profit, which means the company is paying out a majority of its earnings. The relatively limited profit reinvestment could slow the rate of future earnings growth It could become a concern if earnings started to decline. While Realty Income seems to be paying out a very high percentage of its income, REITs have different dividend payment behaviour and so, while we don't think this is great, we also don't think it is unusual. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Realty Income generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out 83% of its free cash flow as dividends, which is within usual limits but will limit the company's ability to lift the dividend if there's no growth.

It's positive to see that Realty Income'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:O Historical Dividend Yield, July 27th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Fortunately for readers, Realty Income's earnings per share have been growing at 13% a year for the past five years. It paid out more than three-quarters of its earnings in the last year, even though earnings per share are growing rapidly. We're surprised that management has not elected to reinvest more in the business to accelerate growth further.

We'd also point out that Realty Income issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. It's hard to grow dividends per share when a company keeps creating new shares.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the past 10 years, Realty Income has increased its dividend at approximately 4.9% a year on average. Earnings per share have been growing much quicker than dividends, potentially because Realty Income is keeping back more of its profits to grow the business.

To Sum It Up

Is Realty Income an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? It's good to see earnings are growing, since all of the best dividend stocks grow their earnings meaningfully over the long run. However, we'd also note that Realty Income is paying out more than half of its earnings and cash flow as profits, which could limit the dividend growth if earnings growth slows. While it does have some good things going for it, we're a bit ambivalent and it would take more to convince us of Realty Income's dividend merits.

Curious what other investors think of Realty Income? See what analysts 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.