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It Might Not Be A Great Idea To Buy The Swatch Group AG (VTX:UHR) For Its Next Dividend

Simply Wall St

Readers hoping to buy The Swatch Group AG (VTX:UHR) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You will need to purchase shares before the 18th of May to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 20th of May.

Swatch Group's next dividend payment will be CHF5.50 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of CHF8.00 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Swatch Group stock has a trailing yield of around 4.6% on the current share price of CHF172.35. 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 Swatch Group has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

View our latest analysis for Swatch Group

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. Swatch Group paid out 56% of its earnings to investors last year, a normal payout level for most businesses. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Swatch Group generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. Over the last year it paid out 53% of its free cash flow as dividends, within the usual range for most companies.

It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

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

SWX:UHR Historical Dividend Yield May 16th 2020

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Swatch Group's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 11% a year over the previous five years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the last ten years, Swatch Group has lifted its dividend by approximately 7.2% a year on average. Growing the dividend payout ratio while earnings are declining can deliver nice returns for a while, but it's always worth checking for when the company can't increase the payout ratio any more - because then the music stops.

Final Takeaway

Should investors buy Swatch Group for the upcoming dividend? While earnings per share are shrinking, it's encouraging to see that at least Swatch Group's dividend appears sustainable, with earnings and cashflow payout ratios that are within reasonable bounds. Overall it doesn't look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.

Having said that, if you're looking at this stock without much concern for the dividend, you should still be familiar of the risks involved with Swatch Group. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Swatch Group you should be aware of.

If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.