- United Kingdom
We Wouldn't Be Too Quick To Buy Nichols plc (LON:NICL) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend
It looks like Nichols plc (LON:NICL) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 3 days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date, which is the cut-off date for shareholders to be present on the company's books to be eligible for a dividend payment. 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. This means that investors who purchase Nichols' shares on or after the 23rd of March will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 4th of May.
The company's next dividend payment will be UK£0.15 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of UK£0.28 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Nichols has a trailing yield of 2.6% on the current stock price of £10.55. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. As a result, readers should always check whether Nichols has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
See our latest analysis for Nichols
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. It paid out 87% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. We'd be concerned if earnings began to decline. 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. It paid out more than half (62%) of its free cash flow in the past year, which is within an average range for most companies.
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.
Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Nichols's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 13% a year over the previous five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Nichols's dividend payments per share have declined at 1.0% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring.
The Bottom Line
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Nichols? It's never good to see earnings per share shrinking, but at least the dividend payout ratios appear reasonable. We're aware though that if earnings continue to decline, the dividend could be at risk. Overall it doesn't look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.
So if you're still interested in Nichols despite it's poor dividend qualities, you should be well informed on some of the risks facing this stock. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Nichols you should know about.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
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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.
Nichols plc, together with its subsidiaries, supplies soft drinks to the retail, wholesale, catering, licensed, and leisure industries in the United Kingdom.
Flawless balance sheet with reasonable growth potential.