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We Wouldn't Be Too Quick To Buy Ashland Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE:ASH) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend

Simply Wall St

Readers hoping to buy Ashland Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE:ASH) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You will need to purchase shares before the 29th of August to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of September.

Ashland Global Holdings's upcoming dividend is US$0.28 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.10 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Ashland Global Holdings has a trailing yield of 1.6% on the current share price of $70.86. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Ashland Global Holdings's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to investigate whether Ashland Global Holdings can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

See our latest analysis for Ashland Global Holdings

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. It paid out 80% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. It could become a concern if earnings started to decline. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Ashland Global Holdings generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. Dividends consumed 68% of the company's free cash flow last year, which is within a normal range for most dividend-paying organisations.

It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

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

NYSE:ASH Historical Dividend Yield, August 24th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. 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 Ashland Global Holdings's earnings per share have dropped 29% 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. Ashland Global Holdings has delivered an average of 14% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. That's intriguing, but the combination of growing dividends despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out a larger percentage of profits. Ashland Global Holdings is already paying out 80% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.

Final Takeaway

Is Ashland Global Holdings worth buying for its dividend? It's never good to see earnings per share shrinking, but at least the dividend payout ratios appear reasonable. We're aware though that if earnings continue to decline, the dividend could be at risk. Overall it doesn't look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.

Wondering what the future holds for Ashland Global Holdings? See what the ten 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.