It looks like NATCO Pharma Limited (NSE:NATCOPHARM) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 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. The ex-dividend date is of consequence because whenever a stock is bought or sold, the trade takes at least two business day to settle. Meaning, you will need to purchase NATCO Pharma's shares before the 24th of August to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 31st of August.
The company's next dividend payment will be ₹2.00 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of ₹6.75 per share. Last year's total dividend payments show that NATCO Pharma has a trailing yield of 0.7% on the current share price of ₹965.35. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. NATCO Pharma paid out just 3.5% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether NATCO Pharma generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out an unsustainably high 245% of its free cash flow as dividends over the past 12 months, which is worrying. Unless there were something in the business we're not grasping, this could signal a risk that the dividend may have to be cut in the future.
While NATCO Pharma'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. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to NATCO Pharma's ability to maintain its dividend.
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. For this reason, we're glad to see NATCO Pharma's earnings per share have risen 19% per annum over the last five years. Earnings have been growing at a decent rate, but we're concerned dividend payments consumed most of the company's cash flow over the past year.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. NATCO Pharma has delivered an average of 33% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.
To Sum It Up
Has NATCO Pharma got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? We're glad to see the company has been improving its earnings per share while also paying out a low percentage of income. However, it's not great to see it paying out what we see as an uncomfortably high percentage of its cash flow. It might be worth researching if the company is reinvesting in growth projects that could grow earnings and dividends in the future, but for now we're not all that optimistic on its dividend prospects.
With that in mind, a critical part of thorough stock research is being aware of any risks that stock currently faces. For example - NATCO Pharma has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
We wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see, though. Here's a list of interesting 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. 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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