Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Dana Incorporated (NYSE:DAN) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. The ex-dividend date occurs one day before the record date which is the day on which shareholders need to be on the company's books in order to receive a 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. Accordingly, Dana investors that purchase the stock on or after the 12th of August will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 3rd of September.
The company's upcoming dividend is US$0.10 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.40 per share to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Dana has a trailing yield of 1.7% on the current stock price of $23.78. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Dana's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are 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. Dana is paying out just 14% of its profit after tax, which is comfortably low and leaves plenty of breathing room in the case of adverse events. 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 11% of its free cash flow last year.
It's positive to see that Dana's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
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 fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at Dana, with earnings per share up 8.2% on average over the last five years. Earnings per share have been growing at a decent rate, and the company is retaining more than three-quarters of its earnings in the business. If profits are reinvested effectively, this could be a bullish combination for future earnings and dividends.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last nine years, Dana has lifted its dividend by approximately 8.0% a year on average. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.
The Bottom Line
Is Dana an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? Earnings per share have been growing moderately, and Dana is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends, which is an attractive combination as it suggests the company is investing in growth. We would prefer to see earnings growing faster, but the best dividend stocks over the long term typically combine significant earnings per share growth with a low payout ratio, and Dana is halfway there. There's a lot to like about Dana, and we would prioritise taking a closer look at it.
On that note, you'll want to research what risks Dana is facing. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Dana 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. 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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