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Readers hoping to buy Sunland Group Limited (ASX:SDG) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. 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. 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. In other words, investors can purchase Sunland Group's shares before the 14th of September in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 30th of September.
The upcoming dividend for Sunland Group is AU$0.20 per share, increased from last year's total dividends per share of AU$0.12. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Sunland Group's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to investigate whether Sunland Group can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Sunland Group paid out 66% of its earnings to investors last year, a normal payout level for most businesses. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. It distributed 29% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.
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?
Companies that aren't growing their earnings can still be valuable, but it is even more important to assess the sustainability of the dividend if it looks like the company will struggle to grow. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. That explains why we're not overly excited about Sunland Group's flat earnings over the past five years. Better than seeing them fall off a cliff, for sure, but the best dividend stocks grow their earnings meaningfully over the long run.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the past eight years, Sunland Group has increased its dividend at approximately 25% a year on average.
To Sum It Up
Is Sunland Group an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? We're not enthused by the flat earnings per share, although at least the company's payout ratio is within reasonable bounds. Additionally, it paid out a lower percentage of its free cash flow, so at least it generated more cash than it spent on dividends. It might be worth researching if the company is reinvesting in growth projects that could grow earnings and dividends in the future, but for now we're not all that optimistic on its dividend prospects.
So if you want to do more digging on Sunland Group, you'll find it worthwhile knowing the risks that this stock faces. To help with this, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Sunland Group (1 is concerning!) that you ought to be aware of before buying the shares.
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.
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