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Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you're one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) is about to go ex-dividend in just four days. Typically, the ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date which is the date on which a company determines the shareholders eligible 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. Accordingly, Bristol-Myers Squibb investors that purchase the stock on or after the 30th of September will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 1st of November.
The company's upcoming dividend is US$0.49 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.96 per share to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Bristol-Myers Squibb has a trailing yield of 3.3% on the current share price of $60.23. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are 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. Bristol-Myers Squibb paid a dividend last year despite being unprofitable. This might be a one-off event, but it's not a sustainable state of affairs in the long run. Considering the lack of profitability, we also need to check if the company generated enough cash flow to cover the dividend payment. If cash earnings don't cover the dividend, the company would have to pay dividends out of cash in the bank, or by borrowing money, neither of which is long-term sustainable. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 36% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Bristol-Myers Squibb reported a loss last year, and the general trend suggests its earnings have also been declining in recent years, making us wonder if the dividend is at risk.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Bristol-Myers Squibb has increased its dividend at approximately 4.0% a year on average.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Bristol-Myers Squibb's financial health, by checking our visualisation of its financial health, here.
To Sum It Up
Has Bristol-Myers Squibb got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? First, it's not great to see the company paying a dividend despite being loss-making over the last year. On the plus side, the dividend was covered by free cash flow." It's not an attractive combination from a dividend perspective, and we're inclined to pass on this one for the time being.
With that being said, if you're still considering Bristol-Myers Squibb as an investment, you'll find it beneficial to know what risks this stock is facing. Our analysis shows 3 warning signs for Bristol-Myers Squibb and you should be aware of them before buying any 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. 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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