It looks like Silicon Motion Technology Corporation (NASDAQ:SIMO) is about to go ex-dividend in the next four 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 important because any transaction on a stock needs to have been settled before the record date in order to be eligible for a dividend. This means that investors who purchase Silicon Motion Technology's shares on or after the 9th of November will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 24th of November.
The company's upcoming dividend is US$0.50 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$2.00 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Silicon Motion Technology has a trailing yield of 2.8% on the current share price of $70.66. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Fortunately Silicon Motion Technology's payout ratio is modest, at just 35% of profit. 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. It distributed 46% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.
It's positive to see that Silicon Motion Technology'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?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Fortunately for readers, Silicon Motion Technology's earnings per share have been growing at 18% a year for the past five years. The company has managed to grow earnings at a rapid rate, while reinvesting most of the profits 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, nine years ago, Silicon Motion Technology has lifted its dividend by approximately 14% 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
Should investors buy Silicon Motion Technology for the upcoming dividend? We love that Silicon Motion Technology 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. There's a lot to like about Silicon Motion Technology, and we would prioritise taking a closer look at it.
While it's tempting to invest in Silicon Motion Technology for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. For example - Silicon Motion Technology has 1 warning sign we think 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.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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