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Should Income Investors Look At Coca-Cola HBC AG (LON:CCH) Before Its Ex-Dividend?

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 Coca-Cola HBC AG (LON:CCH) is about to go ex-dividend in just three 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 important because any transaction on a stock needs to have been settled before the record date in order to be eligible for a dividend. Therefore, if you purchase Coca-Cola HBC's shares on or after the 25th of May, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 19th of June.

The company's upcoming dividend is €0.78 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of €0.78 per share to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Coca-Cola HBC has a trailing yield of approximately 2.7% on its current stock price of £25.38. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.

View our latest analysis for Coca-Cola HBC

Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. Coca-Cola HBC paid out more than half (69%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Coca-Cola HBC generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It distributed 37% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.

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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.

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 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 earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. That explains why we're not overly excited about Coca-Cola HBC'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.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Coca-Cola HBC has delivered 8.7% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years.

To Sum It Up

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Coca-Cola HBC? 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. Overall we're not hugely bearish on the stock, but there are likely better dividend investments out there.

So if you want to do more digging on Coca-Cola HBC, you'll find it worthwhile knowing the risks that this stock faces. In terms of investment risks, we've identified 4 warning signs with Coca-Cola HBC and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.

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

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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