UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) Looks Like A Good Stock, And It’s Going Ex-Dividend Soon

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 3 days time. Investors can purchase shares before the 13th of September in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 24th of September.

UnitedHealth Group’s next dividend payment will be US$1.08 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$4.32 to shareholders. Based on the last year’s worth of payments, UnitedHealth Group stock has a trailing yield of around 1.9% on the current share price of $229. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether UnitedHealth Group’s dividend is reliable and sustainable. That’s why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.

See our latest analysis for UnitedHealth Group

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable – hardly an ideal situation. UnitedHealth Group paid out a comfortable 28% of its profit last year. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether UnitedHealth Group generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It distributed 35% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.

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.

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

NYSE:UNH Historical Dividend Yield, September 9th 2019
NYSE:UNH Historical Dividend Yield, September 9th 2019

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. Fortunately for readers, UnitedHealth Group’s earnings per share have been growing at 19% a year for the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing rapidly and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings within the business. Fast-growing businesses that are reinvesting heavily are enticing from a dividend perspective, especially since they can often increase the payout ratio later.

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, ten years ago, UnitedHealth Group has lifted its dividend by approximately 64% a year on average. Both per-share earnings and dividends have both been growing rapidly in recent times, which is great to see.

The Bottom Line

Has UnitedHealth Group got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? UnitedHealth Group has been growing earnings at a rapid rate, and has a conservatively low payout ratio, implying that it is reinvesting heavily in its business; a sterling combination. It’s a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.

Curious what other investors think of UnitedHealth Group? See what analysts 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.

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.