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Just Four Days Till Manulife Financial Corporation (TSE:MFC) Will Be Trading Ex-Dividend

Readers hoping to buy Manulife Financial Corporation (TSE:MFC) 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 a company's record date, which is the date on which the company determines which shareholders are entitled to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is important as the process of settlement involves two full business days. So if you miss that date, you would not show up on the company's books on the record date. In other words, investors can purchase Manulife Financial's shares before the 27th of February in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 19th of March.

The company's next dividend payment will be CA$0.40 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of CA$1.60 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Manulife Financial stock has a trailing yield of around 4.9% on the current share price of CA$32.41. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Manulife Financial's dividend is reliable and sustainable. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.

View our latest analysis for Manulife Financial

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. Manulife Financial is paying out an acceptable 56% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies.

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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.

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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 Manulife Financial earnings per share are up 2.6% per annum over the last five years.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Manulife Financial has delivered 12% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.

Final Takeaway

Is Manulife Financial an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? 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.

Curious what other investors think of Manulife Financial? See what analysts 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.