Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it’s exciting to see Aurizon Holdings Limited (ASX:AZJ) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. You can purchase shares before the 26th of August in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 23rd of September.
Aurizon Holdings’s next dividend payment will be AU$0.12 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of AU$0.24 to shareholders. Calculating the last year’s worth of payments shows that Aurizon Holdings has a trailing yield of 4.0% on the current share price of A$5.91. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. As a result, readers should always check whether Aurizon Holdings has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
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. Last year Aurizon Holdings paid out 100% of its profits as dividends to shareholders, suggesting the dividend is not well covered by 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. Over the last year it paid out 58% of its free cash flow as dividends, within the usual range for most companies.
It’s disappointing to see that the dividend was not covered by profits, but cash is more important from a dividend sustainability perspective, and Aurizon Holdings fortunately did generate enough cash to fund its dividend. If executives were to continue paying more in dividends than the company reported in profits, we’d view this as a warning sign. Extraordinarily few companies are capable of persistently paying a dividend that is greater than their profits.
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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. For this reason, we’re glad to see Aurizon Holdings’s earnings per share have risen 15% per annum over the last five years.
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, 8 years ago, Aurizon Holdings has lifted its dividend by approximately 26% a year on average. It’s exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.
The Bottom Line
Has Aurizon Holdings got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Aurizon Holdings has been growing its earnings per share nicely, although judging by the difference between its profit and cashflow payout ratios, the company might have reported some write-offs over the last year. It might be worth researching if the company is reinvesting in growth projects that could grow earnings and dividends in the future, but for now we’re not all that optimistic on its dividend prospects.
Ever wonder what the future holds for Aurizon Holdings? 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.
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 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.