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 Ardagh Group S.A. (NYSE:ARD) is about to go ex-dividend in just 4 days. You can purchase shares before the 15th of August in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 30th of August.
Ardagh Group's next dividend payment will be US$0.14 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$0.56 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Ardagh Group stock has a trailing yield of around 3.3% on the current share price of $17.14. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Ardagh Group's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to investigate whether Ardagh Group can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Ardagh Group lost money last year, so the fact that it's paying a dividend is certainly disconcerting. There might be a good reason for this, but we'd want to look into it further before getting comfortable. Given that the company reported a loss last year, we now need to see if it generated enough free cash flow to fund the dividend. If Ardagh Group didn't generate enough cash to pay the dividend, then it must have either paid from cash in the bank or by borrowing money, neither of which is sustainable in the long term. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 49% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Ardagh Group was unprofitable last year, but at least the general trend suggests its earnings have been improving over the past five years. Even so, an unprofitable company whose business does not quickly recover is usually not a good candidate for dividend investors.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Ardagh Group's dividend payments are broadly unchanged compared to where they were two years ago.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Ardagh Group's financial health, by checking our visualisation of its financial health, here.
The Bottom Line
Should investors buy Ardagh Group for the upcoming dividend? 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 might be worth researching if the company is reinvesting in growth projects that could grow earnings and dividends in the future, but for now we're not all that optimistic on its dividend prospects.
Curious what other investors think of Ardagh Group? See what analysts are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow .
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.
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