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SunCoke Energy (NYSE:SXC) Could Be A Buy For Its Upcoming Dividend

It looks like SunCoke Energy, Inc. (NYSE:SXC) is about to go ex-dividend in the next three days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date, which is the cut-off date for shareholders to be present on the company's books to be eligible for a dividend payment. 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. Therefore, if you purchase SunCoke Energy's shares on or after the 14th of May, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 3rd of June.

The company's upcoming dividend is US$0.10 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.40 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that SunCoke Energy has a trailing yield of 3.8% on the current share price of US$10.45. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.

Check out our latest analysis for SunCoke Energy

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. SunCoke Energy paid out more than half (53%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. Fortunately, it paid out only 26% of its free cash flow in the past year.

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It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

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

historic-dividend
historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Fortunately for readers, SunCoke Energy's earnings per share have been growing at 12% a year for the past five years. SunCoke Energy has an average payout ratio which suggests a balance between growing earnings and rewarding shareholders. Given the quick rate of earnings per share growth and current level of payout, there may be a chance of further dividend increases in the future.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. SunCoke Energy has delivered an average of 5.5% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It's good to see both earnings and the dividend have improved - although the former has been rising much quicker than the latter, possibly due to the company reinvesting more of its profits in growth.

Final Takeaway

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid SunCoke Energy? We like SunCoke Energy's growing earnings per share and the fact that - while its payout ratio is around average - it paid out a lower percentage of its cash flow. There's a lot to like about SunCoke Energy, and we would prioritise taking a closer look at it.

So while SunCoke Energy looks good from a dividend perspective, it's always worthwhile being up to date with the risks involved in this stock. To that end, you should learn about the 5 warning signs we've spotted with SunCoke Energy (including 1 which can't be ignored).

Generally, we wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see. Here's a curated list of interesting stocks that are strong dividend payers.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.