Should Income Investors Look At Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (NYSE:SWM) Before Its Ex-Dividend?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 20, 2020
NYSE:SWM

Readers hoping to buy Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (NYSE:SWM) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You can purchase shares before the 25th of November in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 18th of December.

Schweitzer-Mauduit International's upcoming dividend is US$0.44 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.76 per share to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Schweitzer-Mauduit International has a trailing yield of 4.9% on the current stock price of $35.65. 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 Schweitzer-Mauduit International has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

Check out our latest analysis for Schweitzer-Mauduit International

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Schweitzer-Mauduit International paid out more than half (62%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Schweitzer-Mauduit International generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 48% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.

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.

historic-dividend
NYSE:SWM Historic Dividend November 20th 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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. It's not encouraging to see that Schweitzer-Mauduit International's earnings are effectively flat over the past five years. It's better than seeing them drop, certainly, but over the long term, all of the best dividend stocks are able to meaningfully grow their earnings per share.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Schweitzer-Mauduit International has delivered an average of 19% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments.

Final Takeaway

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Schweitzer-Mauduit International? We're not enthused by the flat earnings per share, although at least the company's payout ratio is within reasonable bounds. Additionally, it paid out a lower percentage of its free cash flow, so at least it generated more cash than it spent on dividends. It might be worth researching if the company is reinvesting in growth projects that could grow earnings and dividends in the future, but for now we're not all that optimistic on its dividend prospects.

However if you're still interested in Schweitzer-Mauduit International as a potential investment, you should definitely consider some of the risks involved with Schweitzer-Mauduit International. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Schweitzer-Mauduit International you should be aware of.

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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