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Readers hoping to buy Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. The ex-dividend date is one business day before a company's record date, which is the date on which the company determines which shareholders are entitled to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is important because any transaction on a stock needs to have been settled before the record date in order to be eligible for a dividend. In other words, investors can purchase Applied Materials' shares before the 25th of May in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 16th of June.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.26 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$1.04 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Applied Materials has a trailing yield of 0.9% on the current share price of $110.74. 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! That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. Applied Materials paid out just 13% 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 Applied Materials generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. The good news is it paid out just 14% of its free cash flow in the 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.
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 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 Applied Materials's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 37% per annum for the past five years. With earnings per share growing rapidly and the company sensibly reinvesting almost all of its profits within the business, Applied Materials looks like a promising growth company.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Applied Materials has delivered an average of 13% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It's great to see earnings per share growing rapidly over several years, and dividends per share growing right along with it.
The Bottom Line
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Applied Materials? We love that Applied Materials is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. These characteristics suggest the company is reinvesting in growing its business, while the conservative payout ratio also implies a reduced risk of the dividend being cut in the future. There's a lot to like about Applied Materials, and we would prioritise taking a closer look at it.
While it's tempting to invest in Applied Materials for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. In terms of investment risks, we've identified 1 warning sign with Applied Materials and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.