It looks like Uni-President China Holdings Ltd (HKG:220) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 3 days. The ex-dividend date is usually set to be one business day before the record date which is the cut-off date on which you must be present on the company's books as a shareholder in order to receive the dividend. 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. Therefore, if you purchase Uni-President China Holdings' shares on or after the 25th of May, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 9th of June.
The company's next dividend payment will be CN¥0.38 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of CN¥0.38 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Uni-President China Holdings has a trailing yield of 5.3% on the current share price of HK$8.53. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
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, Uni-President China Holdings paid out 100% of its income as dividends, which is above a level that we're comfortable with, especially if the company needs to reinvest in its business. 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 47% of its free cash flow in the past year.
It's disappointing to see that the dividend was not covered by profits, but cash is more important from a dividend sustainability perspective, and Uni-President China Holdings fortunately did generate enough cash to fund its dividend. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we'd be concerned. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Fortunately for readers, Uni-President China Holdings's earnings per share have been growing at 14% a year for the past five years.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Uni-President China Holdings has increased its dividend at approximately 24% a year on average. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Uni-President China Holdings? It's good to see earnings per share growing and low cashflow payout ratio, although we're uncomfortable with Uni-President China Holdings's paying out such a high percentage of its profit. To summarise, Uni-President China Holdings looks okay on this analysis, although it doesn't appear a stand-out opportunity.
While it's tempting to invest in Uni-President China Holdings for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. For example - Uni-President China Holdings has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
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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