Why It Might Not Make Sense To Buy Innophos Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:IPHS) For Its Upcoming 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 Innophos Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:IPHS) is about to go ex-dividend in just 4 days. You can purchase shares before the 22nd of August in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 6th of September.

Innophos Holdings’s upcoming dividend is US$0.48 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.92 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year’s worth of payments shows that Innophos Holdings has a trailing yield of 7.2% on the current share price of $26.49. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to investigate whether Innophos Holdings can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

View our latest analysis for Innophos Holdings

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. Innophos Holdings distributed an unsustainably high 130% of its profit as dividends to shareholders last year. Without more sustainable payment behaviour, the dividend looks precarious. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. It paid out 109% of its free cash flow in the form of dividends last year, which is outside the comfort zone for most businesses. Cash flows are usually much more volatile than earnings, so this could be a temporary effect – but we’d generally want look more closely here.

Cash is slightly more important than profit from a dividend perspective, but given Innophos Holdings’s payouts were not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we would be concerned about the sustainability of this dividend.

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

NasdaqGS:IPHS Historical Dividend Yield, August 17th 2019
NasdaqGS:IPHS Historical Dividend Yield, August 17th 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. With that in mind, we’re discomforted by Innophos Holdings’s 8.1% per annum decline in earnings in the past five years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.

Another key way to measure a company’s dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Innophos Holdings has increased its dividend at approximately 11% a year on average. That’s intriguing, but the combination of growing dividends despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out a larger percentage of profits. Innophos Holdings is already paying out a high percentage of its income, so without earnings growth, we’re doubtful of whether this dividend will grow much in the future.

The Bottom Line

Should investors buy Innophos Holdings for the upcoming dividend? Not only are earnings per share declining, but Innophos Holdings is paying out an uncomfortably high percentage of both its earnings and cashflow to shareholders as dividends. This is a starkly negative combination that often suggests a dividend cut could be in the company’s near future. It’s not that we think Innophos Holdings is a bad company, but these characteristics don’t generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.

Wondering what the future holds for Innophos Holdings? See what the three 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 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.