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It Might Not Be A Great Idea To Buy Aegon N.V. (AMS:AGN) For Its Next Dividend

Simply Wall St

Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you're one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that Aegon N.V. (AMS:AGN) is about to go ex-dividend in just 3 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 23rd of August, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 20th of September.

Aegon's next dividend payment will be €0.15 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of €0.30 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Aegon has a trailing yield of approximately 8.5% on its current stock price of €3.55. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Aegon

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. Aegon distributed an unsustainably high 146% of its profit as dividends to shareholders last year. Without more sustainable payment behaviour, the dividend looks precarious.

Generally, the higher a company's payout ratio, the more the dividend is at risk of being reduced.

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

ENXTAM:AGN Historical Dividend Yield, August 19th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Aegon's earnings per share have dropped 11% 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.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Aegon's dividend payments per share have declined at 7.0% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. While it's not great that earnings and dividends per share have fallen in recent years, we're encouraged by the fact that management has trimmed the dividend rather than risk over-committing the company in a risky attempt to maintain yields to shareholders.

The Bottom Line

Is Aegon worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share are in decline and Aegon is paying out what we feel is an uncomfortably high percentage of its profit as dividends. Generally we think dividend investors should avoid businesses in this situation, as high payout ratios and declining earnings can lead to the dividend being cut. These characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance, and investors may not be happy with the results of owning this stock for its dividend.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Aegon? See what the 11 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

We wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see, though. Here's a list of interesting 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.