It looks like The Shipping Corporation of India Limited (NSE:SCI) is about to go ex-dividend in the next three 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 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 Shipping Corporation of India's shares before the 17th of August to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 25th of September.
The company's next dividend payment will be ₹0.25 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of ₹0.25 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Shipping Corporation of India has a trailing yield of 0.2% on the current share price of ₹105.8. 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. Shipping Corporation of India paid out just 2.3% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances. 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. Luckily it paid out just 3.0% of its free cash flow last year.
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.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Shipping Corporation of India's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 7.9% 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.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Shipping Corporation of India has seen its dividend decline 26% per annum on average over the past 10 years, which is not great to see. While it's not great that earnings and dividends per share have fallen in recent years, we're encouraged by the fact that management has trimmed the dividend rather than risk over-committing the company in a risky attempt to maintain yields to shareholders.
The Bottom Line
Should investors buy Shipping Corporation of India for the upcoming dividend? Shipping Corporation of India has comfortably low cash and profit payout ratios, which may mean the dividend is sustainable even in the face of a sharp decline in earnings per share. Still, we consider declining earnings to be a warning sign. While it does have some good things going for it, we're a bit ambivalent and it would take more to convince us of Shipping Corporation of India's dividend merits.
While it's tempting to invest in Shipping Corporation of India for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. To help with this, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Shipping Corporation of India (1 is a bit concerning!) that you ought to be aware of before buying the shares.
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. 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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