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How safe is the AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) dividend payment?

Jack Brumby

AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) is a well-known pharmaceuticals giant that focuses on three main therapy areas: Oncology, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disease (CVMD) and Respiratory, while selectively pursuing therapies in Autoimmunity, Infection and NeuroscienceThe Company has approximately 40 projects in Phase I, including 29 new molecular entities (NMEs), and 11 oncology combination projects.

For the six months ended 30 June 2019, AstraZeneca plc revenues increased 9% to $11.31bn and net income increased 5% to $723m. The group pays out an attractive rolling dividend yield of 3.22%, which is forecast to rise by 1.04% over the next year.

I'd like to know how safe AstraZeneca's dividend is. Dividend cover (earnings per share divided by dividend per share) of two times or above is strong. Anything below one and a half times suggests we need to look a little closer.


Computing AstraZeneca's dividend cover ratio

Poor dividend cover means that a small decline in earnings could consign your dividend payment to the scrap heap. It could also mean that the company is forgoing profitable investment opportunities that could generate future earnings growth. With that in mind, let’s take a look at AstraZeneca dividend cover.

We can get all the information we need to see if AstraZeneca has an adequate level of dividend cover from the group’s StockReport. The group’s trailing twelve month (TTM) EPS is $1.72 and its TTM dividend per share is $2.79

Divide the former by the latter and we get a trailing twelve-month dividend cover for AstraZeneca of 0.62. This is below the 1.5 times cover limit that marks the point at which we should do some further digging on dividend sustainability and safety.

Income investing: what you need to know

For many investors, dividends are a vital part of their long-term strategy. That's why we have created a variety of income-focused stock screens, such as the Best Dividends Screen, to identify promising candidates for income portfolios. Take a look and see if any of the qualifying stocks might be worthy of further research.

As for Astrazeneca (LON:AZN), you can find a wealth of financial data on the group's StockReport, including information on the group's past and forecast dividend payments. If you’d like to discover more about dividend investing, you can read our free ebook: How to Make Money in Dividend Stocks.