U.S. Markets closed

We Wouldn't Be Too Quick To Buy Intertape Polymer Group Inc. (TSE:ITP) 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 Intertape Polymer Group Inc. (TSE:ITP) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 13th of September will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 30th of September.

Intertape Polymer Group's next dividend payment will be US$0.15 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.59 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Intertape Polymer Group has a trailing yield of 4.3% on the current stock price of CA$18.19. 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! So we need to investigate whether Intertape Polymer Group can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

View our latest analysis for Intertape Polymer Group

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. Its dividend payout ratio is 89% 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 flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. Intertape Polymer Group paid out more free cash flow than it generated - 133%, to be precise - last year, which we think is concerningly high. It's hard to consistently pay out more cash than you generate without either borrowing or using company cash, so we'd wonder how the company justifies this payout level.

While Intertape Polymer Group's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, cash is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to Intertape Polymer Group's ability to maintain its dividend.

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

TSX:ITP Historical Dividend Yield, September 8th 2019

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 Intertape Polymer Group's earnings per share have dropped 11% a year over the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.

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, 7 years ago, Intertape Polymer Group has lifted its dividend by approximately 21% a year on average. 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. Intertape Polymer Group is already paying out 89% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.

Final Takeaway

Should investors buy Intertape Polymer Group for the upcoming dividend? Intertape Polymer Group had an average payout ratio, but its free cash flow was lower and earnings per share have been declining. It's not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we'd probably give this one a miss for now.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Intertape Polymer Group? See what the nine analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

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.