Dividend Investors: Don’t Be Too Quick To Buy Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) For Its Upcoming Dividend

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Readers hoping to buy Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. If you purchase the stock on or after the 18th of June, you won’t be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 27th of June.

Las Vegas Sands’s next dividend payment will be US$0.77 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$3.08 to shareholders. Based on the last year’s worth of payments, Las Vegas Sands has a trailing yield of 5.4% on the current stock price of $57.04. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it’s also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn’t going to kill our golden goose! We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it’s growing.

View our latest analysis for Las Vegas Sands

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. Las Vegas Sands paid out 154% of profit in the past year, which we think is typically not sustainable unless there are mitigating characteristics such as unusually strong cash flow or a large cash balance. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Las Vegas Sands generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out more than half (74%) of its free cash flow in the past year, which is within an average range for most companies.

It’s good to see that while Las Vegas Sands’s dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we’d be concerned. Extraordinarily few companies are capable of persistently paying a dividend that is greater than their profits.

Click this link to see the company’s income payout ratio, plus what analysts are forecasting for its future payout ratio.

NYSE:LVS Historical Dividend Yield, June 13th 2019
NYSE:LVS Historical Dividend Yield, June 13th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Las Vegas Sands’s earnings per share have fallen at approximately 6.8% a year over the previous 5 years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.

Another key way to measure a company’s dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, 7 years ago, Las Vegas Sands has lifted its dividend by approximately 17% a year on average. The only way to pay higher dividends when earnings are shrinking is either to pay out a larger percentage of profits, spend cash from the balance sheet, or borrow the money. Las Vegas Sands is already paying out 154% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it’s unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.

To Sum It Up

Is Las Vegas Sands an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? It’s never fun to see a company’s earnings per share in retreat. What’s more, Las Vegas Sands is paying out a majority of its earnings and over half its free cash flow. It’s hard to say if the business has the financial resources and time to turn things around without cutting the dividend. It’s not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we’d probably give this one a miss for now.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Las Vegas Sands? See what the 19 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

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. Thank you for reading.