Readers hoping to buy Regional Express Holdings Limited (ASX:REX) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 24th of September will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 16th of October.
Regional Express Holdings's upcoming dividend is AU$0.08 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of AU$0.1 per share to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Regional Express Holdings stock has a trailing yield of around 8.2% on the current share price of A$1.46. 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.
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. Regional Express Holdings paid out 75% 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. Over the last year, it paid out more than three-quarters (87%) of its free cash flow generated, which is fairly high and may be starting to limit reinvestment in the business.
It's positive to see that Regional Express Holdings'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?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Fortunately for readers, Regional Express Holdings's earnings per share have been growing at 18% a year for the past five years. It paid out more than three-quarters of its earnings in the last year, even though earnings per share are growing rapidly. We're surprised that management has not elected to reinvest more in the business to accelerate growth further.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the past nine years, Regional Express Holdings has increased its dividend at approximately 6.9% 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.
Has Regional Express Holdings got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? 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 Regional Express Holdings's earnings per share growing, although as we saw, the company is paying out more than half of its earnings and cashflow - 75% and 87% respectively. 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.
Want to learn more about Regional Express Holdings? Here's a visualisation of its historical rate of revenue and earnings growth.
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.
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