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Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see 888 Holdings plc (LON:888) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 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. 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. This means that investors who purchase 888 Holdings' shares on or after the 16th of September will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 13th of October.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.045 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$0.15 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, 888 Holdings has a trailing yield of 2.8% on the current stock price of £3.846. 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! That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. 888 Holdings paid out a disturbingly high 334% of its profit as dividends last year, which makes us concerned there's something we don't fully understand in the business. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 42% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
It's good to see that while 888 Holdings's dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we'd be concerned. Extraordinarily few companies are capable of persistently paying a dividend that is greater than their profits.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see 888 Holdings's earnings per share have dropped 12% a year over the past five years. Such a sharp decline casts doubt on the future sustainability of the dividend.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, nine years ago, 888 Holdings has lifted its dividend by approximately 13% a year on average. The only way to pay higher dividends when earnings are shrinking is either to pay out a larger percentage of profits, spend cash from the balance sheet, or borrow the money. 888 Holdings is already paying out a high percentage of its income, so without earnings growth, we're doubtful of whether this dividend will grow much in the future.
Is 888 Holdings worth buying for its dividend? It's never great to see earnings per share declining, especially when a company is paying out 334% of its profit as dividends, which we feel is uncomfortably high. Yet cashflow was much stronger, which makes us wonder if there are some large timing issues in 888 Holdings's cash flows, or perhaps the company has written down some assets aggressively, reducing its income. With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of 888 Holdings.
With that being said, if you're still considering 888 Holdings as an investment, you'll find it beneficial to know what risks this stock is facing. For example, we've found 3 warning signs for 888 Holdings that we recommend you consider before investing in the business.
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising 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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