Readers hoping to buy ProAssurance Corporation (NYSE:PRA) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. 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. In other words, investors can purchase ProAssurance's shares before the 28th of September in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 13th of October.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.05 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.20 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, ProAssurance has a trailing yield of approximately 1.0% on its current stock price of $20.11. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! As a result, readers should always check whether ProAssurance has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. ProAssurance paid out a comfortable 28% of its profit last year.
Generally speaking, the lower a company's payout ratios, the more resilient its dividend usually is.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. With that in mind, we're discomforted by ProAssurance's 24% per annum decline in earnings in the past five years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. ProAssurance's dividend payments per share have declined at 8.8% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. It's never nice to see earnings and dividends falling, but at least management has cut the dividend rather than potentially risk the company's health in an attempt to maintain it.
The Bottom Line
Should investors buy ProAssurance for the upcoming dividend? ProAssurance's earnings per share are down over the past five years, although it has the cushion of a low payout ratio, which would suggest a cut to the dividend is relatively unlikely. It doesn't appear an outstanding opportunity, but could be worth a closer look.
Wondering what the future holds for ProAssurance? See what the four analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
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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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