Readers hoping to buy CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. The ex-dividend date is usually set to be one business day before the record date which is the cut-off date on which you must be present on the company's books as a shareholder in order to receive the dividend. The ex-dividend date is an important date to be aware of as any purchase of the stock made on or after this date might mean a late settlement that doesn't show on the record date. Therefore, if you purchase CVS Health's shares on or after the 21st of October, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 1st of November.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.50 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$2.00 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, CVS Health has a trailing yield of 2.3% on the current stock price of $85.84. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. 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. CVS Health 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. What's good is that dividends were well covered by free cash flow, with the company paying out 23% of its cash flow last year.
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?
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. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at CVS Health, with earnings per share up 3.3% on average over the last five years. Recent earnings growth has been limited. Yet there are several ways to grow the dividend, and one of them is simply that the company may choose to pay out more of its earnings as dividends.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. CVS Health has delivered 15% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 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.
Should investors buy CVS Health for the upcoming dividend? Earnings per share have been growing moderately, and CVS Health is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends, which is an attractive combination as it suggests the company is investing in growth. We would prefer to see earnings growing faster, but the best dividend stocks over the long term typically combine significant earnings per share growth with a low payout ratio, and CVS Health is halfway there. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.
While it's tempting to invest in CVS Health for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. For example - CVS Health has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
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.
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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