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Don't Race Out To Buy Kimball International, Inc. (NASDAQ:KBAL) Just Because It's Going Ex-Dividend

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It looks like Kimball International, Inc. (NASDAQ:KBAL) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. The ex-dividend date is usually set to be one business day before the record date which is the cut-off date on which you must be present on the company's books as a shareholder in order to receive the dividend. The ex-dividend date is of consequence because whenever a stock is bought or sold, the trade takes at least two business day to settle. Meaning, you will need to purchase Kimball International's shares before the 23rd of September to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of October.

The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.09 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.36 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Kimball International stock has a trailing yield of around 3.1% on the current share price of $11.51. 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.

View our latest analysis for Kimball International

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Kimball International paid out 179% 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. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. Kimball International paid out more free cash flow than it generated - 171%, to be precise - last year, which we think is concerningly high. We're curious about why the company paid out more cash than it generated last year, since this can be one of the early signs that a dividend may be unsustainable.

Cash is slightly more important than profit from a dividend perspective, but given Kimball International's payouts were not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we would be concerned about the sustainability of this dividend.

Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

historic-dividend
historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Kimball International's earnings per share have dropped 19% a year over the past five years. Such a sharp decline casts doubt on the future sustainability of the dividend.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Kimball International has delivered an average of 6.1% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. That's intriguing, but the combination of growing dividends despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out a larger percentage of profits. Kimball International is already paying out 179% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.

To Sum It Up

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Kimball International? It's looking like an unattractive opportunity, with its earnings per share declining, while, paying out an uncomfortably high percentage of both its profits (179%) and cash flow as dividends. This is a starkly negative combination that often suggests a dividend cut could be in the company's near future. It's not that we think Kimball International is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.

Having said that, if you're looking at this stock without much concern for the dividend, you should still be familiar of the risks involved with Kimball International. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Kimball International you should know about.

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.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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