It looks like Extended Stay America, Inc. (NASDAQ:STAY) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 20th of August in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 4th of September.
Extended Stay America's next dividend payment will be US$0.23 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.92 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Extended Stay America stock has a trailing yield of around 6.5% on the current share price of $14.11. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. 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. 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. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. It paid out 87% of its free cash flow as dividends, which is within usual limits but will limit the company's ability to lift the dividend if there's no growth.
It's positive to see that Extended Stay America'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?
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 decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. For this reason, we're glad to see Extended Stay America's earnings per share have risen 18% per annum over the last five years. It paid out more than three-quarters of its earnings in the last year, even though earnings per share are growing rapidly. Higher earnings generally bode well for growing dividends, although with seemingly strong growth prospects we'd wonder why management are not reinvesting more in the business.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 5 years, Extended Stay America has lifted its dividend by approximately 8.9% 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.
To Sum It Up
Should investors buy Extended Stay America for the upcoming dividend? Higher earnings per share generally lead to higher dividends from dividend-paying stocks over the long run. That's why we're glad to see Extended Stay America's earnings per share growing, although as we saw, the company is paying out more than half of its earnings and cashflow - 84% and 87% respectively. In summary, while it has some positive characteristics, we're not inclined to race out and buy Extended Stay America today.
Wondering what the future holds for Extended Stay America? See what the ten analysts we track 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.
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