Readers hoping to buy Vodafone Group Public Limited Company (LON:VOD) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. The ex-dividend date occurs one day before the record date which is the day on which shareholders need to be on the company's books in order to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is important because any transaction on a stock needs to have been settled before the record date in order to be eligible for a dividend. Meaning, you will need to purchase Vodafone Group's shares before the 24th of November to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 3rd of February.
The company's next dividend payment will be €0.045 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed €0.09 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Vodafone Group has a trailing yield of approximately 8.0% on its current stock price of £0.9742. 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.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Vodafone Group paid out 123% of profit in the past year, which we think is typically not sustainable unless there are mitigating characteristics such as unusually strong cash flow or a large cash balance. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. Fortunately, it paid out only 29% of its free cash flow in the past year.
It's disappointing to see that the dividend was not covered by profits, but cash is more important from a dividend sustainability perspective, and Vodafone Group fortunately did generate enough cash to fund its dividend. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we'd be concerned. Extraordinarily few companies are capable of persistently paying a dividend that is greater than their profits.
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. That's why it's comforting to see Vodafone Group's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 22% per annum for the past five years.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Vodafone Group has seen its dividend decline 7.5% per annum on average over the past 10 years, which is not great to see. It's unusual to see earnings per share increasing at the same time as dividends per share have been in decline. We'd hope it's because the company is reinvesting heavily in its business, but it could also suggest business is lumpy.
To Sum It Up
Is Vodafone Group an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? It's good to see earnings per share growing and low cashflow payout ratio, although we're uncomfortable with Vodafone Group's paying out such a high percentage of its profit. 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 not all that optimistic on its dividend prospects.
With that in mind, a critical part of thorough stock research is being aware of any risks that stock currently faces. To help with this, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Vodafone Group that you should be aware of before investing in their shares.
A common investing mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a full list of high-yield 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.
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