Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see STORE Capital Corporation (NYSE:STOR) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 27th of September, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 15th of October.
STORE Capital's next dividend payment will be US$0.3 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$1.3 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that STORE Capital has a trailing yield of 3.7% on the current share price of $37.58. 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 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. STORE Capital paid out 70% of its earnings to investors last year, a normal payout level for most businesses. That said, REITs are often required by law to distribute all of their earnings, and it's not unusual to see a REIT with a payout ratio around 100%. We wouldn't read too much into this. 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. Dividends consumed 66% of the company's free cash flow last year, which is within a normal range for most dividend-paying organisations.
It's positive to see that STORE Capital'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 decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Fortunately for readers, STORE Capital's earnings per share have been growing at 18% a year for the past five years. STORE Capital is paying out a bit over half its earnings, which suggests the company is striking a balance between reinvesting in growth, and paying dividends. Given the quick rate of earnings per share growth and current level of payout, there may be a chance of further dividend increases in the future.
We'd also point out that STORE Capital issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Trying to grow the dividend while issuing large amounts of new shares reminds us of the ancient Greek tale of Sisyphus - perpetually pushing a boulder uphill.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, five years ago, STORE Capital has lifted its dividend by approximately 9.9% a year on average. 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.
To Sum It Up
Has STORE Capital got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's good to see earnings are growing, since all of the best dividend stocks grow their earnings meaningfully over the long run. That's why we're glad to see STORE Capital's earnings per share growing, although as we saw, the company is paying out more than half of its earnings and cashflow - 70% and 66% respectively. All things considered, we are not particularly enthused about STORE Capital from a dividend perspective.
Wondering what the future holds for STORE Capital? See what the nine 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.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.