Don't Race Out To Buy SEEK Limited (ASX:SEK) Just Because It's Going Ex-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 SEEK Limited (ASX:SEK) is about to go ex-dividend in just four days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date, which is the cut-off date for shareholders to be present on the company's books to be eligible for a dividend payment. The ex-dividend date is of consequence because whenever a stock is bought or sold, the trade takes at least two business day to settle. In other words, investors can purchase SEEK's shares before the 22nd of March in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 5th of April.
The company's next dividend payment will be AU$0.24 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of AU$0.45 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, SEEK has a trailing yield of approximately 1.9% on its current stock price of A$23.11. 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 SEEK can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.
See our latest analysis for SEEK
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. SEEK is paying out an acceptable 64% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies. 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. Dividends consumed 59% of the company's free cash flow last year, which is within a normal range for most dividend-paying organisations.
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.
Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. SEEK's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 6.4% a year over the previous 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. SEEK has delivered an average of 9.6% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. Growing the dividend payout ratio while earnings are declining can deliver nice returns for a while, but it's always worth checking for when the company can't increase the payout ratio any more - because then the music stops.
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid SEEK? While earnings per share are shrinking, it's encouraging to see that at least SEEK's dividend appears sustainable, with earnings and cashflow payout ratios that are within reasonable bounds. Bottom line: SEEK has some unfortunate characteristics that we think could lead to sub-optimal outcomes for dividend investors.
Having said that, if you're looking at this stock without much concern for the dividend, you should still be familiar of the risks involved with SEEK. To help with this, we've discovered 1 warning sign for SEEK that you should be aware of before investing in their shares.
A common investing mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a full list of high-yield dividend stocks.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
SEEK Limited, together with its subsidiaries, provides online employment marketplace services in Australia, South East Asia, Brazil, New Zealand, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Europe, and internationally.
Solid track record with excellent balance sheet.