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Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE:QSR) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in four days. 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 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 Restaurant Brands International's shares on or after the 22nd of June, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 7th of July.
The company's upcoming dividend is US$0.53 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$2.12 per share to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Restaurant Brands International has a trailing yield of 3.1% on the current stock price of $68.34. 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.
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. Restaurant Brands International distributed an unsustainably high 122% of its profit as dividends to shareholders last year. Without more sustainable payment behaviour, the dividend looks precarious. 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. It paid out 103% of its free cash flow in the form of dividends last year, which is outside the comfort zone for most businesses. Companies usually need cash more than they need earnings - expenses don't pay themselves - so it's not great to see it paying out so much of its cash flow.
Cash is slightly more important than profit from a dividend perspective, but given Restaurant Brands International's payments were not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we are concerned about the sustainability of this dividend.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. It's encouraging to see Restaurant Brands International has grown its earnings rapidly, up 27% a year for the past five years. Earnings per share are increasing at a rapid rate, but the company is paying out more than we are comfortable with, based on current earnings. Fast-growing businesses normally need to reinvest most of their earnings in order to maintain growth, so we'd suspect that either earnings growth will slow or the dividend may not be increased for a while.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, six years ago, Restaurant Brands International has lifted its dividend by approximately 34% a year on average. It's great to see earnings per share growing rapidly over several years, and dividends per share growing right along with it.
Should investors buy Restaurant Brands International for the upcoming dividend? While it's nice to see earnings per share growing, we're curious about how Restaurant Brands International intends to continue growing, or maintain the dividend in a downturn given that it's paying out such a high percentage of its earnings and cashflow. It's not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we'd probably give this one a miss for now.
With that being said, if you're still considering Restaurant Brands International as an investment, you'll find it beneficial to know what risks this stock is facing. To help with this, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Restaurant Brands International (1 can't be ignored!) that you ought to be aware of before buying the shares.
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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. 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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