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Aurizon Holdings' (ASX:AZJ) Upcoming Dividend Will Be Larger Than Last Year's

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Aurizon Holdings Limited's (ASX:AZJ) dividend will be increasing to AU$0.14 on 22nd of September. This will take the annual payment to 7.2% of the stock price, which is above what most companies in the industry pay.

See our latest analysis for Aurizon Holdings

Aurizon Holdings Is Paying Out More Than It Is Earning

If the payments aren't sustainable, a high yield for a few years won't matter that much. Before this announcement, Aurizon Holdings was paying out 89% of earnings, but a comparatively small 73% of free cash flows. This leaves plenty of cash for reinvestment into the business.

Looking forward, earnings per share is forecast to fall by 12.5% over the next year. Assuming the dividend continues along recent trends, we believe the payout ratio could reach 105%, which could put the dividend under pressure if earnings don't start to improve.

historic-dividend
historic-dividend

Dividend Volatility

The company has a long dividend track record, but it doesn't look great with cuts in the past. Since 2011, the first annual payment was AU$0.037, compared to the most recent full-year payment of AU$0.29. This means that it has been growing its distributions at 23% per annum over that time. Aurizon Holdings has grown distributions at a rapid rate despite cutting the dividend at least once in the past. Companies that cut once often cut again, so we would be cautious about buying this stock solely for the dividend income.

Aurizon Holdings Might Find It Hard To Grow Its Dividend

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share is growing, which could point to a growing dividend in the future. It's encouraging to see Aurizon Holdings has been growing its earnings per share at 56% a year over the past five years. Earnings per share is growing nicely, but the company is paying out most of its earnings as dividends. This might be sustainable, but we wonder why Aurizon Holdings is not retaining those earnings to reinvest in growth.

In Summary

Overall, this is probably not a great income stock, even though the dividend is being raised at the moment. The company is generating plenty of cash, which could maintain the dividend for a while, but the track record hasn't been great. We would be a touch cautious of relying on this stock primarily for the dividend income.

Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. For example, we've identified 3 warning signs for Aurizon Holdings (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing. If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of high performing dividend stock.

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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