McPherson's Limited (ASX:MCP) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 28th of February will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 19th of March.
McPherson's's next dividend payment will be AU$0.04 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of AU$0.10 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, McPherson's stock has a trailing yield of around 3.5% on the current share price of A$2.83. 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! We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. Its dividend payout ratio is 76% of profit, which means the company is paying out a majority of its earnings. The relatively limited profit reinvestment could slow the rate of future earnings growth We'd be concerned if earnings began to decline. 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. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 42% 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.
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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. This is why it's a relief to see McPherson's earnings per share are up 6.0% per annum over the last five years. While earnings have been growing at a credible rate, the company is paying out a majority of its earnings to shareholders. Therefore it's unlikely that the company will be able to reinvest heavily in its business, which could presage slower growth in the future.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. McPherson's's dividend payments per share have declined at 6.7% per year on average over the past ten years, which is uninspiring. It's unusual to see earnings per share increasing at the same time as dividends per share have been in decline. We'd hope it's because the company is reinvesting heavily in its business, but it could also suggest business is lumpy.
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid McPherson's? While earnings per share growth has been modest, McPherson's's dividend payouts are around an average level; without a sharp change in earnings we feel that the dividend is likely somewhat sustainable. Pleasingly the company paid out a conservatively low percentage of its free cash flow. All things considered, we are not particularly enthused about McPherson's from a dividend perspective.
Wondering what the future holds for McPherson's? See what the three analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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