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Read This Before Considering CNOOC Limited (HKG:883) For Its Upcoming 2.8% 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 CNOOC Limited (HKG:883) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 12th of September, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 16th of October.

CNOOC's next dividend payment will be CN¥0.33 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed CN¥0.66 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, CNOOC has a trailing yield of 6.1% on the current stock price of HK$12. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether CNOOC's dividend is reliable and sustainable. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.

Check out our latest analysis for CNOOC

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. CNOOC is paying out an acceptable 51% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 32% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.

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.

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

SEHK:883 Historical Dividend Yield, September 8th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies that aren't growing their earnings can still be valuable, but it is even more important to assess the sustainability of the dividend if it looks like the company will struggle to grow. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. That explains why we're not overly excited about CNOOC's flat earnings over the past five years. Better than seeing them fall off a cliff, for sure, but the best dividend stocks grow their earnings meaningfully over the long run. Earnings growth has been slim and the company is paying out more than half of its earnings. While there is some room to both increase the payout ratio and reinvest in the business, generally the higher a payout ratio goes, the lower a company's prospects for future growth.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. CNOOC has delivered an average of 6.5% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments.

Final Takeaway

Is CNOOC worth buying for its dividend? It's unfortunate that earnings per share have not grown, and we'd note that CNOOC is paying out lower percentage of its cashflow than its profit, but overall the dividend looks well covered by earnings. In summary, it's hard to get excited about CNOOC from a dividend perspective.

Curious what other investors think of CNOOC? See what analysts are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow .

If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top 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.