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Read This Before Considering Medtronic plc (NYSE:MDT) For Its Upcoming US$0.54 Dividend

Simply Wall St

Readers hoping to buy Medtronic plc (NYSE:MDT) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You can purchase shares before the 26th of March in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 17th of April.

Medtronic's next dividend payment will be US$0.54 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$2.16 per share. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Medtronic has a trailing yield of approximately 2.8% on its current stock price of $77.46. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.

Check out our latest analysis for Medtronic

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Medtronic paid out 53% of its earnings to investors last year, a normal payout level for most businesses. 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. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 43% 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.

NYSE:MDT Historical Dividend Yield, March 21st 2020

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 business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. This is why it's a relief to see Medtronic earnings per share are up 5.7% per annum 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. Therefore it's unlikely that the company will be able to reinvest heavily in its business, which could presage slower growth in the future.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the last ten years, Medtronic has lifted its dividend by approximately 10% a year on average. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.

Final Takeaway

Should investors buy Medtronic for the upcoming dividend? Earnings per share growth has been modest and Medtronic paid out over half of its profits and less than half of its free cash flow, although both payout ratios are within normal limits. In summary, while it has some positive characteristics, we're not inclined to race out and buy Medtronic today.

In light of that, while Medtronic has an appealing dividend, it's worth knowing the risks involved with this stock. In terms of investment risks, we've identified 2 warning signs with Medtronic and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

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.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.