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Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX:RHC) Stock Goes Ex-Dividend In Just 3 Days

Simply Wall St

Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX:RHC) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 3 days time. You will need to purchase shares before the 5th of September to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 30th of September.

Ramsay Health Care's next dividend payment will be AU$0.92 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed AU$1.52 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Ramsay Health Care has a trailing yield of 2.3% on the current share price of A$65.64. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Ramsay Health Care's dividend is reliable and sustainable. As a result, readers should always check whether Ramsay Health Care has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

Check out our latest analysis for Ramsay Health Care

Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. That's why it's good to see Ramsay Health Care paying out a modest 39% of its earnings. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Ramsay Health Care generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. The company paid out 100% of its free cash flow over the last year, which we think is outside the ideal range for most businesses. Cash flows are usually much more volatile than earnings, so this could be a temporary effect - but we'd generally want look more closely here.

While Ramsay Health Care's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, cash is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to Ramsay Health Care's ability to maintain its dividend.

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

ASX:RHC Historical Dividend Yield, August 31st 2019

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 earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. For this reason, we're glad to see Ramsay Health Care's earnings per share have risen 13% per annum over the last five years. Earnings have been growing at a decent rate, but we're concerned dividend payments consumed most of the company's cash flow over the past year.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Ramsay Health Care has increased its dividend at approximately 16% a year on average. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.

To Sum It Up

Is Ramsay Health Care worth buying for its dividend? We're glad to see the company has been improving its earnings per share while also paying out a low percentage of income. However, it's not great to see it paying out what we see as an uncomfortably high percentage of its cash flow. Overall we're not hugely bearish on the stock, but there are likely better dividend investments out there.

Wondering what the future holds for Ramsay Health Care? See what the ten analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising 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.