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Be Sure To Check Out St Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend

Simply Wall St

It looks like St Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. You can purchase shares before the 3rd of September in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 25th of September.

St Barbara's upcoming dividend is AU$0.04 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of AU$0.08 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that St Barbara has a trailing yield of 2.5% on the current share price of A$3.23. 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 St Barbara

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. St Barbara paid out a comfortable 30% of its profit last year. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. It distributed 38% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.

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.

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

ASX:SBM Historical Dividend Yield, August 29th 2019

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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. That's why it's comforting to see St Barbara's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 47% per annum for the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing very quickly, and the company is paying out a relatively low percentage of its profit and cash flow. This is a very favourable combination that can often lead to the dividend multiplying over the long term, if earnings grow and the company pays out a higher percentage of its earnings.

We'd also point out that St Barbara issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. It's hard to grow dividends per share when a company keeps creating new shares.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. St Barbara has delivered an average of 15% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 2 years of dividend payments. Both per-share earnings and dividends have both been growing rapidly in recent times, which is great to see.

The Bottom Line

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid St Barbara? It's great that St Barbara is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. It's disappointing to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, but as things stand now, the low payout ratio suggests a conservative approach to dividends, which we like. St Barbara looks solid on this analysis overall, and we'd definitely consider investigating it more closely.

Wondering what the future holds for St Barbara? See what the six 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.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.