Here's Why We're Wary Of Buying Algoma Central's (TSE:ALC) For Its Upcoming Dividend

By
Simply Wall St
Published
December 19, 2020

Algoma Central Corporation (TSE:ALC) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in four days. You can purchase shares before the 24th of December in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 12th of January.

The upcoming dividend for Algoma Central is CA$2.65 per share, increased from last year's total dividends per share of CA$0.52. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Algoma Central's dividend is reliable and sustainable. As a result, readers should always check whether Algoma Central has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

View our latest analysis for Algoma Central

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. Last year Algoma Central paid out 90% of its profits as dividends to shareholders, suggesting the dividend is not well covered by earnings. 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. What's good is that dividends were well covered by free cash flow, with the company paying out 24% of its cash flow last year.

It's good to see that while Algoma Central's dividends were not well covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if this were to happen repeatedly, we'd be concerned about whether the dividend is sustainable in a downturn.

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

TSX:ALC Historic Dividend December 19th 2020

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Algoma Central's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 16% a year over the previous five years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Algoma Central has delivered 11% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. The only way to pay higher dividends when earnings are shrinking is either to pay out a larger percentage of profits, spend cash from the balance sheet, or borrow the money. Algoma Central is already paying out 90% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.

Final Takeaway

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Algoma Central? It's not a great combination to see a company with earnings in decline and paying out 90% of its profits, which could imply the dividend may be at risk of being cut in the future. However, the cash payout ratio was much lower - good news from a dividend perspective - which makes us wonder why there is such a mis-match between income and cashflow. Overall it doesn't look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.

With that being said, if you're still considering Algoma Central as an investment, you'll find it beneficial to know what risks this stock is facing. To help with this, we've discovered 4 warning signs for Algoma Central that you should be aware of before investing in their shares.

A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.

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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. 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.
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