Walker & Dunlop, Inc. (NYSE:WD) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. You will need to purchase shares before the 22nd of August to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 9th of September.
Walker & Dunlop's upcoming dividend is US$0.30 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.20 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Walker & Dunlop has a trailing yield of 2.2% on the current share price of $55.52. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Walker & Dunlop paid out just 20% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances.
When a company paid out less in dividends than it earned in profit, this generally suggests its dividend is affordable. The lower the % of its profit that it pays out, the greater the margin of safety for the dividend if the business enters a downturn.
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 earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. It's encouraging to see Walker & Dunlop has grown its earnings rapidly, up 35% a year for the past five years.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Walker & Dunlop has delivered 9.5% dividend growth per year on average over the past 2 years. 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
Has Walker & Dunlop got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Typically, companies that are growing rapidly and paying out a low fraction of earnings are keeping the profits for reinvestment in the business. Perhaps even more importantly - this can sometimes signal management is focused on the long term future of the business. Walker & Dunlop 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 Walker & Dunlop? See what the four analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
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.
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