Pennon Group Plc (LON:PNN) has announced that it will be increasing its dividend on the 5th of September to UK£0.27. This takes the dividend yield from 3.8% to 3.8%, which shareholders will be pleased with.
Pennon Group's Earnings Easily Cover the Distributions
While it is great to have a strong dividend yield, we should also consider whether the payment is sustainable. Before making this announcement, the company's dividend was much higher than its earnings. Without profits and cash flows increasing, it would be difficult for the company to continue paying the dividend at this level.
Earnings per share is forecast to rise exponentially over the next year. If the dividend continues growing along recent trends, we estimate the payout ratio could reach 79%, which is on the higher side, but certainly feasible.
While the company has been paying a dividend for a long time, it has cut the dividend at least once in the last 10 years. Since 2012, the first annual payment was UK£0.37, compared to the most recent full-year payment of UK£0.39. Its dividends have grown at less than 1% per annum over this time frame. It's encouraging to see some dividend growth, but the dividend has been cut at least once, and the size of the cut would eliminate most of the growth anyway, which makes this less attractive as an income investment.
The Dividend Has Limited Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share is growing, which could point to a growing dividend in the future. Pennon Group's earnings per share has shrunk at 37% a year over the past five years. Such rapid declines definitely have the potential to constrain dividend payments if the trend continues into the future. It's not all bad news though, as the earnings are predicted to rise over the next 12 months - we would just be a bit cautious until this becomes a long term trend.
We're Not Big Fans Of Pennon Group's Dividend
Overall, while the dividend being raised can be good, there are some concerns about its long term sustainability. The company seems to be stretching itself a bit to make such big payments, but it doesn't appear they can be consistent over time. The dividend doesn't inspire confidence that it will provide solid income in the future.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. For example, we've identified 3 warning signs for Pennon Group (2 are significant!) that you should be aware of before investing. Is Pennon Group not quite the opportunity you were looking for? Why not check out 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.
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