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Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Xylem Inc. (NYSE:XYL) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 26th of February, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 26th of March.
Xylem's next dividend payment will be US$0.26 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$1.04 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Xylem has a trailing yield of 1.2% on the current share price of $88.66. 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.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. That's why it's good to see Xylem paying out a modest 43% of its earnings. 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. Fortunately, it paid out only 28% of its free cash flow in the past year.
It's positive to see that Xylem'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?
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. This is why it's a relief to see Xylem earnings per share are up 3.9% per annum over the last five years. Recent growth has not been impressive. Yet there are several ways to grow the dividend, and one of them is simply that the company may choose to pay out more of its earnings as dividends.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Xylem has delivered an average of 13% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past eight years of dividend payments. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.
The Bottom Line
Is Xylem worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share growth has been growing somewhat, and Xylem is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends. This is interesting for a few reasons, as it suggests management may be reinvesting heavily in the business, but it also provides room to increase the dividend in time. We would prefer to see earnings growing faster, but the best dividend stocks over the long term typically combine significant earnings per share growth with a low payout ratio, and Xylem is halfway there. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.
Wondering what the future holds for Xylem? See what the 17 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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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