It Might Not Be A Great Idea To Buy Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX) For Its Next Dividend

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 Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX) is about to go ex-dividend in just 4 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 22nd of August, you won’t be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 13th of September.

Equifax’s upcoming dividend is US$0.39 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.56 per share to shareholders. Last year’s total dividend payments show that Equifax has a trailing yield of 1.1% on the current share price of $143.74. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Equifax’s dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

View our latest analysis for Equifax

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. Equifax’s dividend is not well covered by earnings, as the company lost money last year. This is not a sustainable state of affairs, so it would be worth investigating if earnings are expected to recover. Considering the lack of profitability, we also need to check if the company generated enough cash flow to cover the dividend payment. If cash earnings don’t cover the dividend, the company would have to pay dividends out of cash in the bank, or by borrowing money, neither of which is long-term sustainable. Equifax paid out more free cash flow than it generated – 122%, to be precise – last year, which we think is concerningly high. We’re curious about why the company paid out more cash than it generated last year, since this can be one of the early signs that a dividend may be unsustainable.

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

NYSE:EFX Historical Dividend Yield, August 17th 2019
NYSE:EFX Historical Dividend Yield, August 17th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Equifax 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.

Another key way to measure a company’s dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, Equifax has lifted its dividend by approximately 26% a year on average.

We update our analysis on Equifax every 24 hours, so you can always get the latest insights on its financial health, here.

To Sum It Up

Is Equifax an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? We’re a bit uncomfortable with it paying a dividend while being loss-making, especially given that the dividend was not well covered by free cash flow. 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 Equifax? See what the 18 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising 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.