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Don't Race Out To Buy Adbri Limited (ASX:ABC) Just Because It's Going Ex-Dividend

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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 Adbri Limited (ASX:ABC) is about to go ex-dividend in just four days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before a company's record date, which is the date on which the company determines which shareholders are entitled to receive a dividend. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. Thus, you can purchase Adbri's shares before the 22nd of September in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 6th of October.

The company's next dividend payment will be AU$0.055 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed AU$0.13 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Adbri has a trailing yield of approximately 3.7% on its current stock price of A$3.48. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for Adbri

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. Adbri is paying out an acceptable 69% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. It paid out 91% of its free cash flow in the form of dividends last year, which is outside the comfort zone for most businesses. Companies usually need cash more than they need earnings - expenses don't pay themselves - so it's not great to see it paying out so much of its cash flow.

Adbri paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn't generate enough cash to cover the dividend. Cash is king, as they say, and were Adbri to repeatedly pay dividends that aren't well covered by cashflow, we would consider this a warning sign.

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

historic-dividend
historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Adbri's earnings per share have dropped 10% a year over the past five years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Adbri's dividend payments per share have declined at 2.5% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. While it's not great that earnings and dividends per share have fallen in recent years, we're encouraged by the fact that management has trimmed the dividend rather than risk over-committing the company in a risky attempt to maintain yields to shareholders.

To Sum It Up

Has Adbri got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's definitely not great to see earnings per share shrinking. The company paid out an acceptable percentage of its income, but an uncomfortably high percentage of its cash flow over the past year. It's not an attractive combination from a dividend perspective, and we're inclined to pass on this one for the time being.

So if you're still interested in Adbri despite it's poor dividend qualities, you should be well informed on some of the risks facing this stock. In terms of investment risks, we've identified 1 warning sign with Adbri and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

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.

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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