Readers hoping to buy Agilent Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:A) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 30th of September will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 23rd of October.
Agilent Technologies’s next dividend payment will be US$0.2 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$0.7 to shareholders. Based on the last year’s worth of payments, Agilent Technologies stock has a trailing yield of around 0.9% on the current share price of $75.97. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. That’s why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
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. Agilent Technologies paid out just 19% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances. 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 22% of its free cash flow in the last year.
It’s encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don’t drop precipitously.
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. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. It’s encouraging to see Agilent Technologies has grown its earnings rapidly, up 39% a year for the past five years. Agilent Technologies looks like a real growth company, with earnings per share growing at a cracking pace and the company reinvesting most of its profits in the business.
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, eight years ago, Agilent Technologies has lifted its dividend by approximately 6.4% a year on average. It’s encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.
To Sum It Up
Is Agilent Technologies worth buying for its dividend? It’s great that Agilent Technologies is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. It’s disappointing to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, but as things stand now, the low payout ratio suggests a conservative approach to dividends, which we like. It’s a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.
Ever wonder what the future holds for Agilent Technologies? See what the 13 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.
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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.