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Is It Smart To Buy Comfort Systems USA, Inc. (NYSE:FIX) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend?

Simply Wall St

Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you're one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that Comfort Systems USA, Inc. (NYSE:FIX) is about to go ex-dividend in just 3 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 9th of August in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 23rd of August.

Comfort Systems USA's next dividend payment will be US$0.10 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.40 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Comfort Systems USA has a trailing yield of 1.0% on the current stock price of $41.32. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for Comfort Systems USA

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Comfort Systems USA has a low and conservative payout ratio of just 13% of its income after tax. 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. What's good is that dividends were well covered by free cash flow, with the company paying out 13% of its cash flow last year.

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:FIX Historical Dividend Yield, August 5th 2019

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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. It's encouraging to see Comfort Systems USA has grown its earnings rapidly, up 32% a year for the past five years. With earnings per share growing rapidly and the company sensibly reinvesting almost all of its profits within the business, Comfort Systems USA looks like a promising growth company.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, Comfort Systems USA has lifted its dividend by approximately 8.3% 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

Is Comfort Systems USA worth buying for its dividend? Comfort Systems USA has been growing earnings at a rapid rate, and has a conservatively low payout ratio, implying that it is reinvesting heavily in its business; a sterling combination. Comfort Systems USA looks solid on this analysis overall, and we'd definitely consider investigating it more closely.

Wondering what the future holds for Comfort Systems USA? See what the three analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

We wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see, though. Here's a list of interesting 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.