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Why Unilever Nv passes three vital dividend tests

Ben Hobson

In times of great uncertainty, stocks with solid yields and track records of consistent and well-financed dividend growth are like gold dust. For investors right across the market-cap range, decent dividends are a pointer to potentially good quality stocks - such as Unilever Nv (AMS:UNA).

The hard part is knowing what to look for. With so many variables to think about, choosing between dividend stocks can be hard work. But if you keep a few simple rules in mind, the hunt for reliable payouts can be a lot easier. Let’s look at the Unilever Nv dividend as an example of how this works.

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Rules for finding dividend shares

1. High (but not excessive) dividend yield

Yield is an important dividend metric because it tells you the percentage of how much a company pays out in dividends each year relative to its share price. That makes it easy to compare dividend payouts right across the market. 

High yields are obviously appealing but be careful of excessively high yields (usually above 10%) because they can be a sign of problems. When the market suspects a company may be unable to sustain its dividend, the share price will fall and actually push the yield higher - and this can be a trap. So it pays to be wary of excessive yields.

  • Unilever Nv has a dividend yield of 3.18%.

2. Dividend growth

Another important marker for income investors is a track record of dividend growth - and evidence that the growth will continue. Consistent dividend growth can be a pointer to companies that are carefully managing their payout policies - and rewarding their shareholders over time. Rather than aggressively dishing out earnings, dividend growth companies tend to have more modest yields, but are better at sustaining their payouts.

  • Unilever Nv has increased its dividend payout 8 times over the past 10 years - and the dividend per share is forecast to grow by 20.4% in the coming year.

3. Dividend safety

Attractively high yields obviously turn heads - but it’s important to know that a dividend is affordable. Dividend Cover (similar to the payout ratio) is a go-to measure of a company's net income over the dividend paid to shareholders. It’s calculated as earnings per share divided by the dividend per share and helps to indicate how sustainable a dividend is.

Dividend cover of less than 1x suggests that the company can’t fund the payout from its current year earnings - and might be relying on other sources of funds to pay it.

  • Unilever Nv has dividend cover of 1.63.

Next steps

With these important rules, you can track down shares that offer a reasonable yield, with a record of growth and safety. On this basis, Unilever Nv could be worth a closer look.

To find out more you might want to take a look at the Unilever Nv StockReport from the award-winning research platform, Stockopedia. StockReports contain a goldmine of information in a single page and can help to inform your investment decisions.

To find more stocks like Unilever Nv, you'll need to equip yourself with professional-grade data and screening tools. This kind of information has traditionally been closely guarded by professional fund managers. But our team of financial analysts have carefully constructed this screen - Stockopedia’s Dividend Stock Ideas - which gives you everything you need. So why not come and take a look?

Plus, if you’d like to discover more about dividend investing, you can read our free ebook: How to Make Money in Dividend Stocks.