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Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in three days. Typically, the ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date which is the date on which a company determines the shareholders eligible 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. Therefore, if you purchase Ford Motor's shares on or after the 10th of August, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 1st of September.
The company's upcoming dividend is US$0.15 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.60 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Ford Motor has a trailing yield of 3.9% on the current share price of $15.3. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
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. Ford Motor paid out just 10% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances. 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. The good news is it paid out just 20% of its free cash flow in the last year.
It's positive to see that Ford Motor'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.
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. It's encouraging to see Ford Motor has grown its earnings rapidly, up 20% a year for the past five years. Ford Motor earnings per share have been sprinting ahead like the Road Runner at a track and field day; scarcely stopping even for a cheeky "beep-beep". We also like that it is reinvesting most of its profits in its business.'
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the past 10 years, Ford Motor has increased its dividend at approximately 12% a year on average. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.
To Sum It Up
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Ford Motor? It's great that Ford Motor 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.
On that note, you'll want to research what risks Ford Motor is facing. To help with this, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Ford Motor (1 is potentially serious!) that you ought to be aware of before buying the shares.
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.
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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