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PetMed Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETS) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 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 important because any transaction on a stock needs to have been settled before the record date in order to be eligible for a dividend. This means that investors who purchase PetMed Express' shares on or after the 5th of August will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 13th of August.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.30 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$1.20 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, PetMed Express stock has a trailing yield of around 3.8% on the current share price of $31.39. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
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. Its dividend payout ratio is 84% of profit, which means the company is paying out a majority of its earnings. The relatively limited profit reinvestment could slow the rate of future earnings growth. We'd be worried about the risk of a drop in earnings. 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. It distributed 48% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.
It's positive to see that PetMed Express's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at PetMed Express, with earnings per share up 5.8% on average over the last five years. While earnings have been growing at a credible rate, the company is paying out a majority of its earnings to shareholders. If management lifts the payout ratio further, we'd take this as a tacit signal that the company's growth prospects are slowing.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the last 10 years, PetMed Express has lifted its dividend by approximately 9.1% a year on average. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.
Is PetMed Express worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share growth has been modest and PetMed Express paid out over half of its profits and less than half of its free cash flow, although both payout ratios are within normal limits. 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 not all that optimistic on its dividend prospects.
While it's tempting to invest in PetMed Express for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. In terms of investment risks, we've identified 2 warning signs with PetMed Express and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
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.
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. 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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