SJW Group's (NYSE:SJW) Shareholders Will Receive A Bigger Dividend Than Last Year

The board of SJW Group (NYSE:SJW) has announced that the dividend on 1st of March will be increased to $0.38, which will be 5.6% higher than last year's payment of $0.36 which covered the same period. The payment will take the dividend yield to 1.9%, which is in line with the average for the industry.

See our latest analysis for SJW Group

SJW Group's Payment Has Solid Earnings Coverage

While it is always good to see a solid dividend yield, we should also consider whether the payment is feasible. Before making this announcement, SJW Group was paying out a fairly large proportion of earnings, and it wasn't generating positive free cash flows either. This is a pretty unsustainable practice, and could be risky if continued for the long term.

Over the next year, EPS is forecast to expand by 46.5%. Assuming the dividend continues along recent trends, we think the payout ratio could be 57% by next year, which is in a pretty sustainable range.


SJW Group Has A Solid Track Record

The company has a sustained record of paying dividends with very little fluctuation. The dividend has gone from an annual total of $0.71 in 2013 to the most recent total annual payment of $1.44. This implies that the company grew its distributions at a yearly rate of about 7.3% over that duration. Companies like this can be very valuable over the long term, if the decent rate of growth can be maintained.

Dividend Growth Is Doubtful

Investors who have held shares in the company for the past few years will be happy with the dividend income they have received. However, initial appearances might be deceiving. In the last five years, SJW Group's earnings per share has shrunk at approximately 6.6% per annum. If the company is making less over time, it naturally follows that it will also have to pay out less in dividends. It's not all bad news though, as the earnings are predicted to rise over the next 12 months - we would just be a bit cautious until this can turn into a longer term trend.

Our Thoughts On SJW Group's Dividend

In summary, while it's always good to see the dividend being raised, we don't think SJW Group's payments are rock solid. With cash flows lacking, it is difficult to see how the company can sustain a dividend payment. We don't think SJW Group is a great stock to add to your portfolio if income is your focus.

Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. To that end, SJW Group has 4 warning signs (and 1 which is potentially serious) we think you should know about. Is SJW Group not quite the opportunity you were looking for? Why not check out our selection of top dividend stocks.

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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.

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