Readers hoping to buy Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSE:SLF) 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 28th of February to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 31st of March.
Sun Life Financial's next dividend payment will be CA$0.55 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed CA$2.20 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Sun Life Financial stock has a trailing yield of around 3.4% on the current share price of CA$65.23. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Sun Life Financial'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. Fortunately Sun Life Financial's payout ratio is modest, at just 47% of profit.
Companies that pay out less in dividends than they earn in profits generally have more sustainable dividends. The lower the payout ratio, the more wiggle room the business has before it could be forced to cut the 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. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. This is why it's a relief to see Sun Life Financial earnings per share are up 8.9% per annum over the last five years.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Sun Life Financial has delivered 4.3% dividend growth per year on average over the past ten years. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.
The Bottom Line
Is Sun Life Financial an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? Sun Life Financial has seen its earnings per share grow slowly in recent years, and the company reinvests more than half of its profits in the business, which generally bodes well for its future prospects. In summary, Sun Life Financial appears to have some promise as a dividend stock, and we'd suggest taking a closer look at it.
Ever wonder what the future holds for Sun Life Financial? See what the 11 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.
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