Medifast, Inc. (NYSE:MED) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in four days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before a company's record date, which is the date on which the company determines which shareholders are entitled to receive a dividend. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. Accordingly, Medifast investors that purchase the stock on or after the 21st of June will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 6th of August.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$1.42 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$5.68 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Medifast stock has a trailing yield of around 2.0% on the current share price of $282.18. 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! As a result, readers should always check whether Medifast has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Medifast paid out a comfortable 45% of its profit last year. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. It distributed 31% 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.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. That's why it's comforting to see Medifast's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 45% per annum for the past five years. Medifast is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow, while simultaneously growing earnings per share at a rapid clip. This is a very favourable combination that can often lead to the dividend multiplying over the long term, if earnings grow and the company pays out a higher percentage of its earnings.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Medifast has delivered 42% dividend growth per year on average over the past five years. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.
Is Medifast an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? We love that Medifast is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. These characteristics suggest the company is reinvesting in growing its business, while the conservative payout ratio also implies a reduced risk of the dividend being cut in the future. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.
On that note, you'll want to research what risks Medifast is facing. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Medifast you should know about.
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.
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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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