Readers hoping to buy Vermilion Energy Inc. (TSE:VET) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. 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. Thus, you can purchase Vermilion Energy's shares before the 28th of September in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 17th of October.
The company's next dividend payment will be CA$0.08 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of CA$0.32 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Vermilion Energy has a trailing yield of approximately 1.2% on its current stock price of CA$26.67. 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. Vermilion Energy paid out just 2.3% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances. 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. Luckily it paid out just 3.3% of its free cash flow 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?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. For this reason, we're glad to see Vermilion Energy's earnings per share have risen 15% per annum over the last five years. Earnings per share have been growing rapidly and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings within the business. Fast-growing businesses that are reinvesting heavily are enticing from a dividend perspective, especially since they can often increase the payout ratio later.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Vermilion Energy has seen its dividend decline 18% per annum on average over the past 10 years, which is not great to see. It's unusual to see earnings per share increasing at the same time as dividends per share have been in decline. We'd hope it's because the company is reinvesting heavily in its business, but it could also suggest business is lumpy.
Has Vermilion Energy got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's great that Vermilion Energy 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. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.
In light of that, while Vermilion Energy has an appealing dividend, it's worth knowing the risks involved with this stock. In terms of investment risks, we've identified 3 warning signs with Vermilion Energy and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
Generally, we wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see. Here's a curated list of interesting stocks that are strong dividend payers.
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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.
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