It Might Be Better To Avoid Bonterra Energy Corp.’s (TSE:BNE) Upcoming 0.2% Dividend

Bonterra Energy Corp. (TSE:BNE) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 3 days time. Investors can purchase shares before the 14th of August in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 30th of August.

Bonterra Energy’s next dividend payment will be CA$0.01 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed CA$0.12 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Bonterra Energy has a trailing yield of approximately 2.8% on its current stock price of CA$4.35. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it’s growing.

Check out our latest analysis for Bonterra Energy

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable – hardly an ideal situation. Bonterra Energy paid out 175% of profit in the past year, which we think is typically not sustainable unless there are mitigating characteristics such as unusually strong cash flow or a large cash balance. 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 90% 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 Bonterra Energy’s payments were not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we are concerned about the sustainability of this dividend.

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

TSX:BNE Historical Dividend Yield, August 10th 2019
TSX:BNE Historical Dividend Yield, August 10th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Readers will understand then, why we’re concerned to see Bonterra Energy’s earnings per share have dropped 22% a year over the past five years. Such a sharp decline casts doubt on the future sustainability of the dividend.

Another key way to measure a company’s dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Bonterra Energy’s dividend payments per share have declined at 29% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. It’s never nice to see earnings and dividends falling, but at least management has cut the dividend rather than potentially risk the company’s health in an attempt to maintain it.

The Bottom Line

Should investors buy Bonterra Energy for the upcoming dividend? It’s looking like an unattractive opportunity, with its earnings per share declining, while, paying out an uncomfortably high percentage of both its profits (175%) and cash flow (90%) 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 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 Bonterra Energy? See what the six analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

If you’re in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top 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.