It looks like Olympic Steel, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZEUS) is about to go ex-dividend in the next four days. The ex-dividend date occurs one day before the record date which is the day on which shareholders need to be on the company's books in order to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is important because any transaction on a stock needs to have been settled before the record date in order to be eligible for a dividend. Thus, you can purchase Olympic Steel's shares before the 30th of November in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 15th of December.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.09 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.36 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Olympic Steel has a trailing yield of 1.0% on the current share price of $37.81. 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.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Olympic Steel is paying out just 3.0% of its profit after tax, which is comfortably low and leaves plenty of breathing room in the case of adverse events. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. What's good is that dividends were well covered by free cash flow, with the company paying out 5.2% of its cash flow last year.
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.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. It's encouraging to see Olympic Steel has grown its earnings rapidly, up 48% a year for the past five years. Olympic Steel earnings per share have been sprinting ahead like the Road Runner at a track and field day; scarcely stopping even for a cheeky "beep-beep". We also like that it is reinvesting most of its profits in its business.'
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Olympic Steel has delivered 16% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. It's great to see earnings per share growing rapidly over several years, and dividends per share growing right along with it.
The Bottom Line
Should investors buy Olympic Steel for the upcoming dividend? Olympic Steel has been growing earnings at a rapid rate, and has a conservatively low payout ratio, implying that it is reinvesting heavily in its business; a sterling combination. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.
With that in mind, a critical part of thorough stock research is being aware of any risks that stock currently faces. Our analysis shows 2 warning signs for Olympic Steel that we strongly recommend you have a look at before investing in the company.
Generally, we wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see. Here's a curated list of interesting stocks that are strong dividend payers.
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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.
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