Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. The ex-dividend date occurs one day before the record date which is the day on which shareholders need to be on the company's books in order to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is of consequence because whenever a stock is bought or sold, the trade takes at least two business day to settle. In other words, investors can purchase ConocoPhillips' shares before the 29th of September in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 14th of October.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$1.40 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$4.44 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, ConocoPhillips has a trailing yield of 4.4% on the current stock price of $100.59. 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. ConocoPhillips has a low and conservative payout ratio of just 19% of its income after tax. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. It paid out 19% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservatively low.
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?
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 earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. That's why it's comforting to see ConocoPhillips's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 29% per annum for the past five years. ConocoPhillips looks like a real growth company, with earnings per share growing at a cracking pace and the company reinvesting most of its profits in the business.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, ConocoPhillips has lifted its dividend by approximately 5.3% a year on average. It's good to see both earnings and the dividend have improved - although the former has been rising much quicker than the latter, possibly due to the company reinvesting more of its profits in growth.
The Bottom Line
Is ConocoPhillips worth buying for its dividend? It's great that ConocoPhillips 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. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.
In light of that, while ConocoPhillips has an appealing dividend, it's worth knowing the risks involved with this stock. For example, we've found 3 warning signs for ConocoPhillips (1 shouldn't be ignored!) that deserve your attention before investing in the shares.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.
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