Dividend Investors: Don’t Be Too Quick To Buy Graham Corporation (NYSE:GHM) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Graham Corporation (NYSE:GHM) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 20th of August will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 4th of September.

Graham’s next dividend payment will be US$0.11 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$0.40 per share. Based on the last year’s worth of payments, Graham has a trailing yield of 2.3% on the current stock price of $19.25. 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 Graham has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

View our latest analysis for Graham

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. Graham reported a loss last year, so it’s not great to see that it has continued paying a dividend. Considering the lack of profitability, we also need to check if the company generated enough cash flow to cover the dividend payment. If Graham didn’t generate enough cash to pay the dividend, then it must have either paid from cash in the bank or by borrowing money, neither of which is sustainable in the long term. It paid out an unsustainably high 476% of its free cash flow as dividends over the past 12 months, which is worrying. Our definition of free cash flow excludes cash generated from asset sales, so since Graham is paying out such a high percentage of its cash flow, it might be worth seeing if it sold assets or had similar events that might have led to such a high dividend payment.

Graham does have a large net cash position on the balance sheet, which could fund large dividends for a time, if the company so chose. Still, smart investors know that it is better to assess dividends relative to the cash and profit generated by the business. Paying dividends out of cash on the balance sheet is not long-term sustainable.

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

NYSE:GHM Historical Dividend Yield, August 15th 2019
NYSE:GHM Historical Dividend Yield, August 15th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Graham reported a loss last year, and the general trend suggests its earnings have also been declining in recent years, making us wonder if the dividend is at risk.

Many investors will assess a company’s dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, Graham has lifted its dividend by approximately 19% a year on average.

Get our latest analysis on Graham’s balance sheet health here.

To Sum It Up

Is Graham an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? First, it’s not great to see the company paying a dividend despite being loss-making over the last year. Second, the dividend was not well covered by cash flow. 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 Graham? See what the three 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.