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It Might Not Be A Great Idea To Buy Elmira Savings Bank (NASDAQ:ESBK) For Its Next Dividend

Simply Wall St

Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Elmira Savings Bank (NASDAQ:ESBK) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 5th of September, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 13th of September.

Elmira Savings Bank's next dividend payment will be US$0.23 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$0.92 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Elmira Savings Bank has a trailing yield of 6.5% on the current stock price of $14.09. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Elmira Savings Bank's dividend is reliable and sustainable. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.

See our latest analysis for Elmira Savings Bank

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. It paid out 89% 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. It could become a concern if earnings started to decline.

When a company paid out less in dividends than it earned in profit, this generally suggests its dividend is affordable. The lower the % of its profit that it pays out, the greater the margin of safety for the dividend if the business enters a downturn.

Click here to see how much of its profit Elmira Savings Bank paid out over the last 12 months.

NasdaqCM:ESBK Historical Dividend Yield, September 1st 2019

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 Elmira Savings Bank's earnings per share have dropped 5.9% 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.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, Elmira Savings Bank has lifted its dividend by approximately 4.4% a year on average. That's intriguing, but the combination of growing dividends despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out a larger percentage of profits. Elmira Savings Bank 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.

Final Takeaway

Should investors buy Elmira Savings Bank for the upcoming dividend? Earnings per share have been declining and the company is paying out more than half its profits to shareholders; not an enticing combination. This is not an overtly appealing combination of characteristics, and we're just not that interested in this company's dividend.

Want to learn more about Elmira Savings Bank? Here's a visualisation of its historical rate of revenue and earnings growth.

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.