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Read This Before Considering Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY) For Its Upcoming US$0.22 Dividend

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next four 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. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. Accordingly, Occidental Petroleum investors that purchase the stock on or after the 7th of March will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of April.

The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.22 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$0.72 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Occidental Petroleum has a trailing yield of approximately 1.4% on its current stock price of US$61.36. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Occidental Petroleum's dividend is reliable and sustainable. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.

Check out our latest analysis for Occidental Petroleum

Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. Occidental Petroleum is paying out just 17% of its profit after tax, which is comfortably low and leaves plenty of breathing room in the case of adverse events. 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. The good news is it paid out just 23% of its free cash flow in the last year.

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It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

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 earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. That's why it's not ideal to see Occidental Petroleum's earnings per share have been shrinking at 4.6% a year over the previous five years.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Occidental Petroleum's dividend payments per share have declined at 10% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. While it's not great that earnings and dividends per share have fallen in recent years, we're encouraged by the fact that management has trimmed the dividend rather than risk over-committing the company in a risky attempt to maintain yields to shareholders.

The Bottom Line

Is Occidental Petroleum worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share are down meaningfully, although at least the company is paying out a low and conservative percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. It's definitely not great to see earnings falling, but at least there may be some buffer before the dividend needs to be cut. In summary, it's hard to get excited about Occidental Petroleum from a dividend perspective.

With that in mind, a critical part of thorough stock research is being aware of any risks that stock currently faces. Our analysis shows 2 warning signs for Occidental Petroleum and you should be aware of them before buying any shares.

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.