Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE:WHR) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next four days. The ex-dividend date is usually set to be one business day before the record date which is the cut-off date on which you must be present on the company's books as a shareholder in order to receive the dividend. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. This means that investors who purchase Whirlpool's shares on or after the 16th of November will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of December.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$1.75 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$7.00 to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Whirlpool has a trailing yield of 6.4% on the current share price of $109.79. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is 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. Whirlpool reported a loss after tax last year, which means it's paying a dividend despite being unprofitable. While this might be a one-off event, this is unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. Given that the company reported a loss last year, we now need to see if it generated enough free cash flow to fund the dividend. If cash earnings don't cover the dividend, the company would have to pay dividends out of cash in the bank, or by borrowing money, neither of which is long-term sustainable. Over the last year, it paid out dividends equivalent to 209% of what it generated in free cash flow, a disturbingly high percentage. It's pretty hard to pay out more than you earn, so we wonder how Whirlpool intends to continue funding this dividend, or if it could be forced to cut the payment.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Whirlpool reported a loss last year, and the general trend suggests its earnings have also been declining in recent years, making us wonder if the dividend is at risk.
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, Whirlpool has lifted its dividend by approximately 13% a year on average.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Whirlpool's financial health, by checking our visualisation of its financial health, here.
Is Whirlpool worth buying for its dividend? It's hard to get used to Whirlpool paying a dividend despite reporting a loss over the past year. Worse, the dividend was not well covered by cash flow. Overall it doesn't look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.
Although, if you're still interested in Whirlpool and want to know more, you'll find it very useful to know what risks this stock faces. For example - Whirlpool has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
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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.