Readers hoping to buy Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (NSE:BPCL) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 25th of March will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 12th of April.
Bharat Petroleum's next dividend payment will be ₹5.00 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed ₹16.00 to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Bharat Petroleum has a trailing yield of 3.7% on the current share price of ₹432.95. 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 Bharat Petroleum has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. Its dividend payout ratio is 78% of profit, which means the company is paying out a majority of its earnings. The relatively limited profit reinvestment could slow the rate of future earnings growth. It could become a concern if earnings started to decline. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Bharat Petroleum generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out 109% of its free cash flow in the form of dividends last year, which is outside the comfort zone for most businesses. Companies usually need cash more than they need earnings - expenses don't pay themselves - so it's not great to see it paying out so much of its cash flow.
While Bharat Petroleum's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, cash is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Cash is king, as they say, and were Bharat Petroleum to repeatedly pay dividends that aren't well covered by cashflow, we would consider this a warning sign.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Stocks with flat earnings can still be attractive dividend payers, but it is important to be more conservative with your approach and demand a greater margin for safety when it comes to dividend sustainability. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. That explains why we're not overly excited about Bharat Petroleum's flat earnings over the past five years. We'd take that over an earnings decline any day, but in the long run, the best dividend stocks all grow their earnings per share.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the last 10 years, Bharat Petroleum has lifted its dividend by approximately 21% a year on average.
Has Bharat Petroleum got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's not great to see earnings per share have been flat and that the company paid out an uncomfortably high percentage of its cash flow over the past year. Cash flows are typically more volatile than earnings, but this is still not what we like to see. 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 Bharat Petroleum despite it's poor dividend qualities, you should be well informed on some of the risks facing this stock. Our analysis shows 4 warning signs for Bharat Petroleum and you should be aware of them before buying any shares.
If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top 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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