Readers hoping to buy Ardagh Group S.A. (NYSE:ARD) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You will need to purchase shares before the 17th of March to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 1st of April.
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 3.9% on the current share price of $14.49. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Ardagh Group's dividend is reliable and sustainable. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
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. Ardagh Group's dividend is not well covered by earnings, as the company lost money last year. This is not a sustainable state of affairs, so it would be worth investigating if earnings are expected to recover. With the recent loss, it's important to check if the business generated enough cash to pay its 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. It distributed 40% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.
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. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. 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 effectively flat on where they were three 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
Has Ardagh Group got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? 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." To summarise, Ardagh Group looks okay on this analysis, although it doesn't appear a stand-out opportunity.
So while Ardagh Group looks good from a dividend perspective, it's always worthwhile being up to date with the risks involved in this stock. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Ardagh Group you should know about.
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.
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