Readers hoping to buy Healthcare Services Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:HCSG) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 22nd of August will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 27th of September.
Healthcare Services Group's next dividend payment will be US$0.20 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$0.80 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Healthcare Services Group has a trailing yield of 3.6% on the current share price of $22.11. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Healthcare Services Group paid out more than half (69%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. Over the last year, it paid out more than three-quarters (85%) of its free cash flow generated, which is fairly high and may be starting to limit reinvestment in the business.
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. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. For this reason, we're glad to see Healthcare Services Group's earnings per share have risen 11% per annum over the last five years. It paid out more than three-quarters of its earnings in the last year, even though earnings per share are growing rapidly. Higher earnings generally bode well for growing dividends, although with seemingly strong growth prospects we'd wonder why management are not reinvesting more in the business.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, 10 years ago, Healthcare Services Group has lifted its dividend by approximately 6.4% a year on average. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.
To Sum It Up
Has Healthcare Services Group got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's good to see earnings are growing, since all of the best dividend stocks grow their earnings meaningfully over the long run. That's why we're glad to see Healthcare Services Group's earnings per share growing, although as we saw, the company is paying out more than half of its earnings and cashflow - 69% and 85% respectively. It might be worth researching if the company is reinvesting in growth projects that could grow earnings and dividends in the future, but for now we're not all that optimistic on its dividend prospects.
Wondering what the future holds for Healthcare Services Group? See what the eight analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
We wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see, though. Here's a list of interesting dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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