Is It Smart To Buy Aecon Group Inc. (TSE:ARE) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 21, 2022
TSX:ARE
Source: Shutterstock

Aecon Group Inc. (TSE:ARE) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in two days. The ex-dividend date is usually set to be one business day before the record date which is the cut-off date on which you must be present on the company's books as a shareholder in order to receive the dividend. 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. Meaning, you will need to purchase Aecon Group's shares before the 24th of March to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 4th of April.

The company's next dividend payment will be CA$0.18 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of CA$0.70 per share. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Aecon Group has a trailing yield of approximately 4.6% on its current stock price of CA$16.13. 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 check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for Aecon Group

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. Its dividend payout ratio is 85% of profit, which means the company is paying out a majority of its earnings. The relatively limited profit reinvestment could slow the rate of future earnings growth. We'd be concerned if earnings began to decline. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Aecon Group generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. Aecon Group paid a dividend despite reporting negative free cash flow last year. That's typically a bad combination and - if this were more than a one-off - not sustainable.

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

historic-dividend
TSX:ARE Historic Dividend March 21st 2022

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Stocks with flat earnings can still be attractive dividend payers, but it is important to be more conservative with your approach and demand a greater margin for safety when it comes to dividend sustainability. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. That explains why we're not overly excited about Aecon Group's flat earnings over the past five years. Better than seeing them fall off a cliff, for sure, but the best dividend stocks grow their earnings meaningfully over the long run.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Aecon Group has delivered 14% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years.

The Bottom Line

Is Aecon Group worth buying for its dividend? In addition to earnings being flat, Aecon Group is paying out a reasonable percentage of its earnings as profits. However, the dividend was not well covered by free cash flow. It's not that we think Aecon Group is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.

With that in mind though, if the poor dividend characteristics of Aecon Group don't faze you, it's worth being mindful of the risks involved with this business. For example - Aecon Group has 3 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

Generally, we wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see. Here's a curated list of interesting stocks that are strong dividend payers.

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