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Surge Energy Inc. (TSE:SGY) Looks Like A Good Stock, And It's Going Ex-Dividend Soon

It looks like Surge Energy Inc. (TSE:SGY) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. Typically, the ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date which is the date on which a company determines the shareholders eligible to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is important as the process of settlement involves two full business days. So if you miss that date, you would not show up on the company's books on the record date. In other words, investors can purchase Surge Energy's shares before the 28th of February in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of March.

The company's next dividend payment will be CA$0.04 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed CA$0.48 to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Surge Energy has a trailing yield of 6.9% on the current share price of CA$6.95. 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 check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

See our latest analysis for Surge Energy

If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. That's why it's good to see Surge Energy paying out a modest 30% of its earnings. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Surge Energy generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 45% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.

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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.

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historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. It's encouraging to see Surge Energy has grown its earnings rapidly, up 37% a year for the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing very quickly, and the company is paying out a relatively low percentage of its profit and cash flow. Companies with growing earnings and low payout ratios are often the best long-term dividend stocks, as the company can both grow its earnings and increase the percentage of earnings that it pays out, essentially multiplying the dividend.

We'd also point out that Surge Energy issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. It's hard to grow dividends per share when a company keeps creating new shares.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Surge Energy's dividend payments per share have declined at 18% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. Surge Energy is a rare case where dividends have been decreasing at the same time as earnings per share have been improving. It's unusual to see, and could point to unstable conditions in the core business, or more rarely an intensified focus on reinvesting profits.

The Bottom Line

Has Surge Energy got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's great that Surge Energy is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. It's disappointing to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, but as things stand now, the low payout ratio suggests a conservative approach to dividends, which we like. Surge Energy looks solid on this analysis overall, and we'd definitely consider investigating it more closely.

On that note, you'll want to research what risks Surge Energy is facing. Our analysis shows 3 warning signs for Surge Energy that we strongly recommend you have a look at before investing in the company.

If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.

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.