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Income Investors Should Know That British American Tobacco p.l.c. (LON:BATS) Goes Ex-Dividend Soon

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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 British American Tobacco p.l.c. (LON:BATS) is about to go ex-dividend in just three days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date, which is the cut-off date for shareholders to be present on the company's books to be eligible for a dividend payment. 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. Thus, you can purchase British American Tobacco's shares before the 30th of September in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 11th of November.

The company's next dividend payment will be UK£0.54 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed UK£2.16 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, British American Tobacco stock has a trailing yield of around 8.1% on the current share price of £26.58. 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 British American Tobacco

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. Its dividend payout ratio is 78% 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. It could become a concern if earnings started to decline. 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 paid out more than half (62%) of its free cash flow in the past year, which is within an average range for most companies.

It's positive to see that British American Tobacco's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

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

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historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. This is why it's a relief to see British American Tobacco earnings per share are up 3.2% per annum over the last five years. A payout ratio of 78% looks like a tacit signal from management that reinvestment opportunities in the business are low. In line with limited earnings growth in recent years, this is not the most appealing combination.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. British American Tobacco has delivered an average of 6.6% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.

To Sum It Up

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid British American Tobacco? Earnings per share growth has been unremarkable, and while the company is paying out a majority of its earnings and cash flow in the form of dividends, the dividend payments don't appear excessive. Overall, it's hard to get excited about British American Tobacco from a dividend perspective.

With that being said, if dividends aren't your biggest concern with British American Tobacco, you should know about the other risks facing this business. To help with this, we've discovered 2 warning signs for British American Tobacco (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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