The Weir Group PLC (LON:WEIR) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in three days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before a company's record date, which is the date on which the company determines which shareholders are entitled to receive a dividend. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. Meaning, you will need to purchase Weir Group's shares before the 21st of April to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 6th of June.
The company's next dividend payment will be UK£0.12 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of UK£0.25 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Weir Group has a trailing yield of 1.6% on the current share price of £15.32. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Weir Group's dividend is reliable and sustainable. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Weir Group paid out a comfortable 40% of its profit last year. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 29% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
It's positive to see that Weir Group's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
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 decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. It's encouraging to see Weir Group has grown its earnings rapidly, up 24% a year for the past five years. Weir Group is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow, while simultaneously growing earnings per share at a rapid clip. This is a very favourable combination that can often lead to the dividend multiplying over the long term, if earnings grow and the company pays out a higher percentage of its earnings.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Weir Group's dividend payments per share have declined at 2.9% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. It's unusual to see earnings per share increasing at the same time as dividends per share have been in decline. We'd hope it's because the company is reinvesting heavily in its business, but it could also suggest business is lumpy.
The Bottom Line
Is Weir Group worth buying for its dividend? It's great that Weir Group is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. It's disappointing to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, but as things stand now, the low payout ratio suggests a conservative approach to dividends, which we like. Weir Group looks solid on this analysis overall, and we'd definitely consider investigating it more closely.
So while Weir Group looks good from a dividend perspective, it's always worthwhile being up to date with the risks involved in this stock. In terms of investment risks, we've identified 1 warning sign with Weir Group and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
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.