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Be Sure To Check Out Lithia Motors, Inc. (NYSE:LAD) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend

Simply Wall St

It looks like Lithia Motors, Inc. (NYSE:LAD) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 8th of August in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 23rd of August.

Lithia Motors's next dividend payment will be US$0.30 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$1.20 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Lithia Motors has a trailing yield of 0.9% on the current share price of $129.62. 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! That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.

See our latest analysis for Lithia Motors

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Lithia Motors has a low and conservative payout ratio of just 10% of its income after tax. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. Luckily it paid out just 7.2% of its free cash flow last year.

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.

NYSE:LAD 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. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. It's encouraging to see Lithia Motors has grown its earnings rapidly, up 23% a year for the past five years. With earnings per share growing rapidly and the company sensibly reinvesting almost all of its profits within the business, Lithia Motors looks like a promising growth company.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Lithia Motors has delivered 20% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. Both per-share earnings and dividends have both been growing rapidly in recent times, which is great to see.

Final Takeaway

Is Lithia Motors worth buying for its dividend? Lithia Motors has grown its earnings per share while simultaneously reinvesting in the business. Unfortunately it's cut the dividend at least once in the past ten years, but the conservative payout ratio makes the current dividend look sustainable. Lithia Motors looks solid on this analysis overall, and we'd definitely consider investigating it more closely.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Lithia Motors? See what the 12 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top 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.