Imperial Oil Limited (TSE:IMO) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in four days. Typically, the ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date which is the date on which a company determines the shareholders eligible to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is an important date to be aware of as any purchase of the stock made on or after this date might mean a late settlement that doesn't show on the record date. Thus, you can purchase Imperial Oil's shares before the 2nd of March in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 1st of April.
The company's upcoming dividend is CA$0.34 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of CA$1.36 per share to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Imperial Oil has a trailing yield of 2.5% on the current share price of CA$55.02. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. That's why it's good to see Imperial Oil paying out a modest 30% of its earnings.
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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. This is why it's a relief to see Imperial Oil earnings per share are up 7.4% per annum over the last five years. The company is retaining more than half of its earnings within the business, and it has been growing earnings at a decent rate. We think this is generally an attractive combination, as dividends can grow through a combination of earnings growth and or a higher payout ratio over time.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, Imperial Oil has lifted its dividend by approximately 12% a year on average. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.
To Sum It Up
Has Imperial Oil got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It has been growing its earnings per share somewhat in recent years, although it reinvests more than half its earnings in the business, which could suggest there are some growth projects that have not yet reached fruition. Imperial Oil ticks a lot of boxes for us from a dividend perspective, and we think these characteristics should mark the company as deserving of further attention.
While it's tempting to invest in Imperial Oil for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. To help with this, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Imperial Oil that you should be aware of before investing in their shares.
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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.