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Should Income Investors Look At Direct Line Insurance Group plc (LON:DLG) Before Its Ex-Dividend?

Simply Wall St

Readers hoping to buy Direct Line Insurance Group plc (LON:DLG) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. If you purchase the stock on or after the 8th of August, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 6th of September.

Direct Line Insurance Group's next dividend payment will be UK£0.072 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of UK£0.29 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Direct Line Insurance Group has a trailing yield of 9.2% on the current share price of £3.186. 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! We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.

View our latest analysis for Direct Line Insurance Group

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. Direct Line Insurance Group paid out more than half (67%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies.

Companies that pay out less in dividends than they earn in profits generally have more sustainable dividends. The lower the payout ratio, the more wiggle room the business has before it could be forced to cut the dividend.

Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

LSE:DLG Historical Dividend Yield, August 4th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. This is why it's a relief to see Direct Line Insurance Group earnings per share are up 6.8% per annum over the last five years.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 6 years, Direct Line Insurance Group has increased its dividend at approximately 22% a year on average. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.

Final Takeaway

Is Direct Line Insurance Group worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share have been growing at a reasonable rate, and the company is paying out a bit over half its earnings as dividends. It might be worth researching if the company is reinvesting in growth projects that could grow earnings and dividends in the future, but for now we're on the fence about its dividend prospects.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Direct Line Insurance Group? See what the 13 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.