Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you’re one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that Cogeco Inc. (TSE:CGO) is about to go ex-dividend in just 4 days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 12th of November will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 27th of November.
Cogeco’s next dividend payment will be CA$0.5 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed CA$1.7 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Cogeco has a trailing yield of approximately 1.9% on its current stock price of CA$99.11. 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! As a result, readers should always check whether Cogeco 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. Cogeco paid out more than half (70%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. 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. The good news is it paid out just 2.3% of its free cash flow in the last year.
It’s positive to see that Cogeco’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?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. With that in mind, we’re discomforted by Cogeco’s 9.9% per annum decline in earnings in the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.
Many investors will assess a company’s dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the last ten years, Cogeco has lifted its dividend by approximately 19% a year on average. That’s interesting, but the combination of a growing dividend despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out more of the company’s profits. This can be valuable for shareholders, but it can’t go on forever.
Should investors buy Cogeco for the upcoming dividend? The payout ratios are within a reasonable range, implying the dividend may be sustainable. Declining earnings are a serious concern, however, and could pose a threat to the dividend in future. 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.
Keen to explore more data on Cogeco’s financial performance? Check out our visualisation of its historical revenue and earnings growth.
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.
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