Northwest Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NWBI) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in four days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date, which is the cut-off date for shareholders to be present on the company's books to be eligible for a dividend payment. The ex-dividend date is of consequence because whenever a stock is bought or sold, the trade takes at least two business day to settle. In other words, investors can purchase Northwest Bancshares' shares before the 1st of November in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 14th of November.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.20 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$0.80 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Northwest Bancshares has a trailing yield of 7.6% on the current share price of $10.57. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Northwest Bancshares paid out 72% of its earnings to investors last year, a normal payout level for most businesses.
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.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. This is why it's a relief to see Northwest Bancshares earnings per share are up 3.3% per annum over the last five years.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, Northwest Bancshares has lifted its dividend by approximately 5.2% a year on average. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.
The Bottom Line
Is Northwest Bancshares an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? Earnings per share have been growing at a reasonable rate, and the company is paying out a bit over half its earnings as dividends. It might be worth researching if the company is reinvesting in growth projects that could grow earnings and dividends in the future, but for now we're on the fence about its dividend prospects.
With that being said, if dividends aren't your biggest concern with Northwest Bancshares, you should know about the other risks facing this business. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Northwest Bancshares (of which 1 doesn't sit too well with us!) you should know about.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.