Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB) will increase its dividend from last year's comparable payment on the 31st of March to £0.4932. This will take the annual payment to 6.9% of the stock price, which is above what most companies in the industry pay.
Imperial Brands' Dividend Is Well Covered By Earnings
We like to see robust dividend yields, but that doesn't matter if the payment isn't sustainable. The last payment made up 85% of earnings, but cash flows were much higher. Since the dividend is just paying out cash to shareholders, we care more about the cash payout ratio from which we can see plenty is being left over for reinvestment in the business.
The next year is set to see EPS grow by 78.7%. Under the assumption that the dividend will continue along recent trends, we think the payout ratio could be 46% which would be quite comfortable going to take the dividend forward.
The company's dividend history has been marked by instability, with at least one cut in the last 10 years. Since 2012, the annual payment back then was £0.951, compared to the most recent full-year payment of £1.41. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 4.0% a year over that time. We're glad to see the dividend has risen, but with a limited rate of growth and fluctuations in the payments the total shareholder return may be limited.
Imperial Brands May Find It Hard To Grow The Dividend
Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. Earnings have grown at around 2.8% a year for the past five years, which isn't massive but still better than seeing them shrink. There are exceptions, but limited earnings growth and a high payout ratio can signal that a company has reached maturity. This isn't the end of the world, but for investors looking for strong dividend growth they may want to look elsewhere.
Overall, this is probably not a great income stock, even though the dividend is being raised at the moment. The payments haven't been particularly stable and we don't see huge growth potential, but with the dividend well covered by cash flows it could prove to be reliable over the short term. 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. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. Taking the debate a bit further, we've identified 3 warning signs for Imperial Brands that investors need to be conscious of moving forward. Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our collection of strong dividend payers.
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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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