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Is It Smart To Buy The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend?

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Readers hoping to buy The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You will need to purchase shares before the 13th of May to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 1st of June.

Kroger's next dividend payment will be US$0.18 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.72 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Kroger has a trailing yield of approximately 1.9% on its current stock price of $37.73. 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 Kroger

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Kroger paid out just 21% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Kroger generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out 14% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservatively low.

It's positive to see that Kroger'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.

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

historic-dividend
historic-dividend

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. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at Kroger, with earnings per share up 9.6% on average over the last five years. Earnings per share have been increasing steadily and management is reinvesting almost all of the profits back into the business. This is an attractive combination, because when profits are reinvested effectively, growth can compound, with corresponding benefits for earnings and dividends in the future.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Kroger has increased its dividend at approximately 14% 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.

To Sum It Up

Is Kroger worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share have been growing moderately, and Kroger is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends, which is an attractive combination as it suggests the company is investing in growth. We would prefer to see earnings growing faster, but the best dividend stocks over the long term typically combine significant earnings per share growth with a low payout ratio, and Kroger is halfway there. Kroger looks solid on this analysis overall, and we'd definitely consider investigating it more closely.

With that in mind, a critical part of thorough stock research is being aware of any risks that stock currently faces. To that end, you should learn about the 4 warning signs we've spotted with Kroger (including 1 which is potentially serious).

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.

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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.