U.S. Markets open in 5 hrs 4 mins

We Wouldn't Be Too Quick To Buy A2B Australia Limited (ASX:A2B) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend

Simply Wall St

Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see A2B Australia Limited (ASX:A2B) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 26th of September will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 31st of October.

A2B Australia's next dividend payment will be AU$0.04 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of AU$0.08 per share. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, A2B Australia has a trailing yield of approximately 5.3% on its current stock price of A$1.505. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for A2B Australia

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Its dividend payout ratio is 81% of profit, which means the company is paying out a majority of its earnings. The relatively limited profit reinvestment could slow the rate of future earnings growth We'd be worried about the risk of a drop in 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. The company paid out 95% of its free cash flow over the last year, which we think is outside the ideal range for most businesses. Companies usually need cash more than they need earnings - expenses don't pay themselves - so it's not great to see it paying out so much of its cash flow.

A2B Australia paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn't generate enough cash to cover the dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to A2B Australia's ability to maintain its dividend.

Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

ASX:A2B Historical Dividend Yield, September 22nd 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. A2B Australia's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 27% a year over the previous five years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. A2B Australia has seen its dividend decline 13% per annum on average over the past ten years, which is not great to see. 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

Is A2B Australia worth buying for its dividend? A2B Australia had an average payout ratio, but its free cash flow was lower and earnings per share have been declining. Bottom line: A2B Australia has some unfortunate characteristics that we think could lead to sub-optimal outcomes for dividend investors.

Wondering what the future holds for A2B Australia? See what the two 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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.