Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Frasers Centrepoint Trust (SGX:J69U) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 30th of July will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 29th of August.
Frasers Centrepoint Trust's next dividend payment will be S$0.011 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed S$0.12 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Frasers Centrepoint Trust has a trailing yield of approximately 4.6% on its current stock price of SGD2.63. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
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. It paid out 86% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. We'd be worried about the risk of a drop in earnings. That said, REITs are often required by law to distribute all of their earnings, and it's not unusual to see a REIT with a payout ratio around 100%. We wouldn't read too much into this. 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. It paid out 86% 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 Frasers Centrepoint Trust'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.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Frasers Centrepoint Trust's earnings per share have dropped 12% a year over the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.
Frasers Centrepoint Trust also issued more than 5% of its market cap in new stock during the past year, which we feel is likely to hurt its dividend prospects in the long run. Trying to grow the dividend while issuing large amounts of new shares reminds us of the ancient Greek tale of Sisyphus - perpetually pushing a boulder uphill.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Frasers Centrepoint Trust has delivered 5.1% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. The only way to pay higher dividends when earnings are shrinking is either to pay out a larger percentage of profits, spend cash from the balance sheet, or borrow the money. Frasers Centrepoint Trust is already paying out a high percentage of its income, so without earnings growth, we're doubtful of whether this dividend will grow much in the future.
Should investors buy Frasers Centrepoint Trust for the upcoming dividend? It's never good to see earnings per share shrinking, but at least the dividend payout ratios appear reasonable. We're aware though that if earnings continue to decline, the dividend could be at risk. With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of Frasers Centrepoint Trust.
Wondering what the future holds for Frasers Centrepoint Trust? 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.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.