Is It Smart To Buy ESSA Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:ESSA) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend?

It looks like ESSA Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:ESSA) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 13th of March will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 31st of March.

ESSA Bancorp’s upcoming dividend is US$0.11 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.44 per share to shareholders. Last year’s total dividend payments show that ESSA Bancorp has a trailing yield of 2.9% on the current share price of $14.935. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

View our latest analysis for ESSA Bancorp

Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. Fortunately ESSA Bancorp’s payout ratio is modest, at just 33% of profit.

Companies that pay out less in dividends than they earn in profits generally have more sustainable dividends. The lower the payout ratio, the more wiggle room the business has before it could be forced to cut the dividend.

Click here to see how much of its profit ESSA Bancorp paid out over the last 12 months.

NasdaqGS:ESSA Historical Dividend Yield, March 8th 2020
NasdaqGS:ESSA Historical Dividend Yield, March 8th 2020

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it’s easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. With that in mind, we’re encouraged by the steady growth at ESSA Bancorp, with earnings per share up 9.3% on average over the last five years.

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, ESSA Bancorp has lifted its dividend by approximately 11% a year on average. We’re glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.

Final Takeaway

Is ESSA Bancorp worth buying for its dividend? It has been growing its earnings per share somewhat in recent years, although it reinvests more than half its earnings in the business, which could suggest there are some growth projects that have not yet reached fruition. In summary, ESSA Bancorp appears to have some promise as a dividend stock, and we’d suggest taking a closer look at it.

So while ESSA Bancorp looks good from a dividend perspective, it’s always worthwhile being up to date with the risks involved in this stock. Every company has risks, and we’ve spotted 1 warning sign for ESSA Bancorp you should know about.

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.

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.

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