Dividend Investors: Don't Be Too Quick To Buy Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Simply Wall St

Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 4 days time. You can purchase shares before the 22nd of August in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 13th of September.

Equifax's next dividend payment will be US$0.39 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$1.56 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Equifax has a trailing yield of 1.1% on the current stock price of $143.74. 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! As a result, readers should always check whether Equifax has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.

See our latest analysis for Equifax

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. Equifax reported a loss last year, so it's not great to see that it has continued paying a dividend. 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. Equifax paid out more free cash flow than it generated - 122%, to be precise - last year, which we think is concerningly high. It's hard to consistently pay out more cash than you generate without either borrowing or using company cash, so we'd wonder how the company justifies this payout level.

Click here to see the company's payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.

NYSE:EFX Historical Dividend Yield, August 17th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Equifax reported a loss last year, and the general trend suggests its earnings have also been declining in recent years, making us wonder if the dividend is at risk.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Equifax has increased its dividend at approximately 26% a year on average.

We update our analysis on Equifax every 24 hours, so you can always get the latest insights on its financial health, here.

To Sum It Up

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Equifax? It's hard to get used to Equifax paying a dividend despite reporting a loss over the past year. Worse, the dividend was not well covered by cash flow. It's not an attractive combination from a dividend perspective, and we're inclined to pass on this one for the time being.

Wondering what the future holds for Equifax? See what the 18 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.