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Should Income Investors Look At Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) Before Its Ex-Dividend?

Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 3 days. The ex-dividend date occurs one day before the record date which is the day on which shareholders need to be on the company's books in order to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is an important date to be aware of as any purchase of the stock made on or after this date might mean a late settlement that doesn't show on the record date. Therefore, if you purchase Newcrest Mining's shares on or after the 26th of August, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 29th of September.

The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.20 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.28 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Newcrest Mining stock has a trailing yield of around 2.2% on the current share price of A$18.49. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to investigate whether Newcrest Mining can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.

Check out our latest analysis for Newcrest Mining

Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. Fortunately Newcrest Mining's payout ratio is modest, at just 27% of profit. 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. Over the past year it paid out 196% of its free cash flow as dividends, which is uncomfortably high. It's hard to consistently pay out more cash than you generate without either borrowing or using company cash, so we'd wonder how the company justifies this payout level.

While Newcrest Mining's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, cash is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to Newcrest Mining's ability to maintain its dividend.

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

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historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Stocks in companies that generate sustainable earnings growth often make the best dividend prospects, as it is easier to lift the dividend when earnings are rising. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. For this reason, we're glad to see Newcrest Mining's earnings per share have risen 20% per annum over the last five years. Earnings have been growing at a decent rate, but we're concerned dividend payments consumed most of the company's cash flow over the past year.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Newcrest Mining's dividend payments per share have declined at 2.6% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. It's unusual to see earnings per share increasing at the same time as dividends per share have been in decline. We'd hope it's because the company is reinvesting heavily in its business, but it could also suggest business is lumpy.

The Bottom Line

Is Newcrest Mining worth buying for its dividend? We're glad to see the company has been improving its earnings per share while also paying out a low percentage of income. However, it's not great to see it paying out what we see as an uncomfortably high percentage of its cash flow. Overall, it's not a bad combination, but we feel that there are likely more attractive dividend prospects out there.

While it's tempting to invest in Newcrest Mining for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Newcrest Mining (including 1 which is concerning).

Generally, we wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see. Here's a curated list of interesting stocks that are strong dividend payers.

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

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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