Here’s Why We’re Wary Of Buying Elekta AB (publ)’s (STO:EKTA B) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it’s exciting to see Elekta AB (publ) (STO:EKTA B) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 21st of February will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 27th of February.

Elekta’s next dividend payment will be kr0.90 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of kr1.80 per share. Last year’s total dividend payments show that Elekta has a trailing yield of 1.6% on the current share price of SEK115.9. 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.

View our latest analysis for Elekta

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. Elekta paid out more than half (62%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. 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. The company paid out 99% of its free cash flow over the last year, which we think is outside the ideal range for most businesses. Cash flows are usually much more volatile than earnings, so this could be a temporary effect – but we’d generally want look more closely here.

Elekta paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn’t generate enough cash to cover the dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to Elekta’s ability to maintain its dividend.

Click here to see the company’s payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

OM:EKTA B Historical Dividend Yield, February 17th 2020
OM:EKTA B Historical Dividend Yield, February 17th 2020

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 business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. That explains why we’re not overly excited about Elekta’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.

The main way most investors will assess a company’s dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, ten years ago, Elekta has lifted its dividend by approximately 14% a year on average.

The Bottom Line

Is Elekta an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? Earnings per share have not grown and Elekta’s profit payout ratio looks reasonable. However, it paid out a disconcertingly high percentage of its cashflow, which is a worry. It’s not that we think Elekta is a bad company, but these characteristics don’t generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.

Wondering what the future holds for Elekta? See what the 15 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

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