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 Suncor Energy Inc. (TSE:SU) is about to go ex-dividend in just 4 days. You will need to purchase shares before the 3rd of September to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 25th of September.
Suncor Energy’s next dividend payment will be CA$0.42 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of CA$1.68 per share. Last year’s total dividend payments show that Suncor Energy has a trailing yield of 4.4% on the current share price of CA$37.9. 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 Suncor Energy can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.
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. Fortunately Suncor Energy’s payout ratio is modest, at just 43% of profit. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. Fortunately, it paid out only 32% of its free cash flow in the past year.
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.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. With that in mind, we’re encouraged by the steady growth at Suncor Energy, with earnings per share up 6.7% on average over the last five years. Management have been reinvested more than half of the company’s earnings within the business, and the company has been able to grow earnings with this retained capital. Organisations that reinvest heavily in themselves typically get stronger over time, which can bring attractive benefits such as stronger earnings and dividends.
The main way most investors will assess a company’s dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past ten years, Suncor Energy has increased its dividend at approximately 24% a year on average. It’s encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.
The Bottom Line
Has Suncor Energy got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Earnings per share have been growing moderately, and Suncor Energy is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends, which is an attractive combination as it suggests the company is investing in growth. It might be nice to see earnings growing faster, but Suncor Energy is being conservative with its dividend payouts and could still perform reasonably over the long run. It’s a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.
Ever wonder what the future holds for Suncor Energy? See what the 13 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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