It looks like Altius Minerals Corporation (TSE:ALS) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 5th of September will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 20th of September.
Altius Minerals's next dividend payment will be CA$0.05 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of CA$0.20 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Altius Minerals has a trailing yield of 1.8% on the current stock price of CA$11.11. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! So we need to investigate whether Altius Minerals can afford its dividend, and if the dividend could grow.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Altius Minerals paid a dividend last year despite being unprofitable. This might be a one-off event, but it's not a sustainable state of affairs in the long run. With the recent loss, it's important to check if the business generated enough cash to pay its dividend. If cash earnings don't cover the dividend, the company would have to pay dividends out of cash in the bank, or by borrowing money, neither of which is long-term sustainable. Over the last year it paid out 67% of its free cash flow as dividends, within the usual range for most companies.
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. Altius Minerals 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.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 4 years, Altius Minerals has lifted its dividend by approximately 26% a year on average. It's great to see earnings per share growing rapidly over several years, and dividends per share growing right along with it.
The Bottom Line
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Altius Minerals? We're a bit uncomfortable with it paying a dividend while being loss-making. However, we note that the dividend was covered by cash flow. While it does have some good things going for it, we're a bit ambivalent and it would take more to convince us of Altius Minerals's dividend merits.
Curious what other investors think of Altius Minerals? See what analysts 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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