Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you're one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that Avangrid, Inc. (NYSE:AGR) is about to go ex-dividend in just 2 days. Typically, the ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date which is the date on which a company determines the shareholders eligible 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. Thus, you can purchase Avangrid's shares before the 28th of February in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 1st of April.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.44 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$1.76 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Avangrid has a trailing yield of 4.1% on the current share price of $43.39. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Avangrid'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.
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. It paid out 89% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. We'd be worried about the risk of a drop in earnings. Avangrid paid a dividend despite reporting negative free cash flow over the last twelve months. This may be due to heavy investment in the business, but this is still suboptimal from a dividend sustainability perspective.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. That's why it's not ideal to see Avangrid's earnings per share have been shrinking at 2.2% a year over the previous five years.
Avangrid also issued more than 5% of its market cap in new stock during the past year, which we feel is likely to hurt its dividend prospects in the long run. It's hard to grow dividends per share when a company keeps creating new shares.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. It looks like the Avangrid dividends are largely the same as they were six years ago. When earnings are declining yet the dividends are flat, typically the company is either paying out a higher portion of its earnings, or paying out of cash or debt on the balance sheet, neither of which is ideal.
To Sum It Up
Is Avangrid worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share have been declining and the company is paying out more than half its profits to shareholders; not an enticing combination. In sum this is a middling combination, and we find it hard to get excited about the company from a dividend perspective.
So if you want to do more digging on Avangrid, you'll find it worthwhile knowing the risks that this stock faces. To help with this, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Avangrid that you should be aware of before investing in their shares.
Generally, we wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see. Here's a curated list of interesting stocks that are strong dividend payers.
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.