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Don't Buy Sienna Senior Living Inc. (TSE:SIA) For Its Next Dividend Without Doing These Checks

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Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Sienna Senior Living Inc. (TSE:SIA) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 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 an important date to be aware of as any purchase of the stock made on or after this date might mean a late settlement that doesn't show on the record date. In other words, investors can purchase Sienna Senior Living's shares before the 28th of October in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of November.

The company's upcoming dividend is CA$0.078 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of CA$0.94 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Sienna Senior Living has a trailing yield of 6.5% on the current share price of CA$14.4. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Sienna Senior Living's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for Sienna Senior Living

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Sienna Senior Living reported a loss after tax last year, which means it's paying a dividend despite being unprofitable. While this might be a one-off event, this is unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. Considering the lack of profitability, we also need to check if the company generated enough cash flow to cover the dividend payment. If cash earnings don't cover the dividend, the company would have to pay dividends out of cash in the bank, or by borrowing money, neither of which is long-term sustainable. Over the past year it paid out 144% of its free cash flow as dividends, which is uncomfortably high. It's hard to consistently pay out more cash than you generate without either borrowing or using company cash, so we'd wonder how the company justifies this payout level.

Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

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Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Sienna Senior Living was unprofitable last year and, unfortunately, the general trend suggests its earnings have been in decline over the last five years, making us wonder if the dividend is sustainable at all.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the past 10 years, Sienna Senior Living has increased its dividend at approximately 1.0% a year on average.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Sienna Senior Living's financial health, by checking our visualisation of its financial health, here.

To Sum It Up

Is Sienna Senior Living worth buying for its dividend? It's hard to get used to Sienna Senior Living paying a dividend despite reporting a loss over the past year. Worse, the dividend was not well covered by cash flow. With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of Sienna Senior Living.

With that in mind though, if the poor dividend characteristics of Sienna Senior Living don't faze you, it's worth being mindful of the risks involved with this business. In terms of investment risks, we've identified 3 warning signs with Sienna Senior Living and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

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.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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