It looks like Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX:ALL) is about to go ex-dividend in the next four 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. Meaning, you will need to purchase Aristocrat Leisure's shares before the 30th of November to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 16th of December.
The company's upcoming dividend is AU$0.26 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of AU$0.52 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Aristocrat Leisure has a trailing yield of 1.5% on the current share price of A$35.42. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Aristocrat Leisure's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. Aristocrat Leisure paid out a comfortable 36% of its profit last year. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 36% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
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.
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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Fortunately for readers, Aristocrat Leisure's earnings per share have been growing at 13% a year for the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing rapidly and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings within the business. Fast-growing businesses that are reinvesting heavily are enticing from a dividend perspective, especially since they can often increase the payout ratio later.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, Aristocrat Leisure has lifted its dividend by approximately 23% a year on average. It's exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.
Is Aristocrat Leisure an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? It's great that Aristocrat Leisure 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. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.
Wondering what the future holds for Aristocrat Leisure? See what the 15 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
A common investing mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a full list of high-yield 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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