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Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE:WM) Passed Our Checks, And It's About To Pay A 0.4% Dividend

Simply Wall St

Readers hoping to buy Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE:WM) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You can purchase shares before the 5th of September in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 20th of September.

Waste Management's next dividend payment will be US$0.51 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$2.05 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Waste Management stock has a trailing yield of around 1.7% on the current share price of $119.35. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. As a result, readers should always check whether Waste Management has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

Check out our latest analysis for Waste Management

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Fortunately Waste Management's payout ratio is modest, at just 47% of profit. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Waste Management generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. Fortunately, it paid out only 47% of its free cash flow in the past year.

It's positive to see that Waste Management'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 the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

NYSE:WM Historical Dividend Yield, September 1st 2019

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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. It's encouraging to see Waste Management has grown its earnings rapidly, up 82% a year 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.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, Waste Management has lifted its dividend by approximately 6.6% 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.

To Sum It Up

Has Waste Management got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Waste Management has been growing earnings at a rapid rate, and has a conservatively low payout ratio, implying that it is reinvesting heavily in its business; a sterling combination. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Waste Management? See what the 12 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

We wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see, though. Here's a list of interesting 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.