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Is It Smart To Buy MetLife, Inc. (NYSE:MET) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend?

Simply Wall St

It looks like MetLife, Inc. (NYSE:MET) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 3 days. You will need to purchase shares before the 3rd of February to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 13th of March.

MetLife's next dividend payment will be US$0.44 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$1.76 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, MetLife has a trailing yield of approximately 3.5% on its current stock price of $50.49. 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! So we need to investigate whether MetLife can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

Check out our latest analysis for MetLife

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. MetLife has a low and conservative payout ratio of just 23% of its income after tax.

Companies that pay out less in dividends than they earn in profits generally have more sustainable dividends. The lower the payout ratio, the more wiggle room the business has before it could be forced to cut the dividend.

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

NYSE:MET Historical Dividend Yield, January 30th 2020

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. That's why it's comforting to see MetLife's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 21% per annum for the past five years.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the past ten years, MetLife has increased its dividend at approximately 9.1% 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

Should investors buy MetLife for the upcoming dividend? Companies like MetLife that are growing rapidly and paying out a low fraction of earnings, are usually reinvesting heavily in their business. This is one of the most attractive investment combinations under this analysis, as it can create substantial value for investors over the long run. MetLife ticks a lot of boxes for us from a dividend perspective, and we think these characteristics should mark the company as deserving of further attention.

Ever wonder what the future holds for MetLife? See what the nine analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

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.