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Superior Plus Corp. (TSE:SPB) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 4 days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date, which is the cut-off date for shareholders to be present on the company's books to be eligible for a dividend payment. 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. This means that investors who purchase Superior Plus' shares on or after the 29th of July will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 13th of August.
The company's next dividend payment will be CA$0.06 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of CA$0.72 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Superior Plus has a trailing yield of 4.6% on the current share price of CA$15.56. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. As a result, readers should always check whether Superior Plus has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
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. Last year Superior Plus paid out 93% of its profits as dividends to shareholders, suggesting the dividend is not well covered by earnings. 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. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 44% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
It's good to see that while Superior Plus's dividends were not well covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if this were to happen repeatedly, we'd be concerned about whether the dividend is sustainable in a downturn.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Superior Plus's earnings per share have dropped 8.0% a year over the past five years. Such a sharp decline casts doubt on the future sustainability of the dividend.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Superior Plus's dividend payments per share have declined at 7.8% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. It's never nice to see earnings and dividends falling, but at least management has cut the dividend rather than potentially risk the company's health in an attempt to maintain it.
To Sum It Up
Has Superior Plus got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's not a great combination to see a company with earnings in decline and paying out 93% of its profits, which could imply the dividend may be at risk of being cut in the future. Yet cashflow was much stronger, which makes us wonder if there are some large timing issues in Superior Plus's cash flows, or perhaps the company has written down some assets aggressively, reducing its income. Overall it doesn't look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.
With that being said, if you're still considering Superior Plus as an investment, you'll find it beneficial to know what risks this stock is facing. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Superior Plus (1 is concerning) you should be aware of.
If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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. 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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