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The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY) Looks Interesting, And It's About To Pay A Dividend

Simply Wall St

The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 4 days time. Investors can purchase shares before the 21st of November in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 16th of December.

Hershey's next dividend payment will be US$0.77 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$3.09 per share. Last year's total dividend payments show that Hershey has a trailing yield of 2.1% on the current share price of $145.75. 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! So we need to investigate whether Hershey can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

See our latest analysis for Hershey

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. That's why it's good to see Hershey paying out a modest 48% of its earnings. 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. Fortunately, it paid out only 44% of its free cash flow in the past year.

It's positive to see that Hershey's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

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

NYSE:HSY Historical Dividend Yield, November 16th 2019

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 business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Fortunately for readers, Hershey's earnings per share have been growing at 11% a year for the past five years. The company has managed to grow earnings at a rapid rate, while reinvesting most of the profits within the business. Fast-growing businesses that are reinvesting heavily are enticing from a dividend perspective, especially since they can often increase the payout ratio later.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Hershey has delivered an average of 10% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past ten years of dividend payments. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.

To Sum It Up

Is Hershey an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? We love that Hershey is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. These characteristics suggest the company is reinvesting in growing its business, while the conservative payout ratio also implies a reduced risk of the dividend being cut in the future. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.

Ever wonder what the future holds for Hershey? See what the 14 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.