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Be Sure To Check Out Atrion Corporation (NASDAQ:ATRI) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend

Simply Wall St

Readers hoping to buy Atrion Corporation (NASDAQ:ATRI) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 29th of November will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 16th of December.

Atrion's next dividend payment will be US$1.55 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$6.20 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Atrion has a trailing yield of 0.9% on the current share price of $718. 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! As a result, readers should always check whether Atrion has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

See our latest analysis for Atrion

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. That's why it's good to see Atrion paying out a modest 28% of its earnings. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Atrion generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It distributed 39% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.

It's positive to see that Atrion'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 how much of its profit Atrion paid out over the last 12 months.

NasdaqGS:ATRI Historical Dividend Yield, November 24th 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. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at Atrion, with earnings per share up 8.3% on average over the last five years. The company is retaining more than half of its earnings within the business, and it has been growing earnings at a decent rate. Organisations that reinvest heavily in themselves typically get stronger over time, which can bring attractive benefits such as stronger earnings and dividends.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, ten years ago, Atrion has lifted its dividend by approximately 18% 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.

The Bottom Line

Should investors buy Atrion for the upcoming dividend? Earnings per share growth has been growing somewhat, and Atrion is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends. This is interesting for a few reasons, as it suggests management may be reinvesting heavily in the business, but it also provides room to increase the dividend in time. It might be nice to see earnings growing faster, but Atrion is being conservative with its dividend payouts and could still perform reasonably over the long run. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.

Want to learn more about Atrion's dividend performance? Check out this visualisation of its historical revenue and earnings growth.

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.