McCormick & Company, Incorporated (NYSE:MKC) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 4 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. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. Accordingly, McCormick investors that purchase the stock on or after the 30th of December will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 10th of January.
The company’s upcoming dividend is US$0.37 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.36 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year’s worth of payments shows that McCormick has a trailing yield of 1.6% on the current share price of $93.03. 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! We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it’s growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable – hardly an ideal situation. Fortunately McCormick’s payout ratio is modest, at just 47% of profit. 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. It paid out more than half (69%) of its free cash flow in the past year, which is within an average range for most companies.
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. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Fortunately for readers, McCormick’s earnings per share have been growing at 13% a year for the past five years. McCormick is paying out a bit over half its earnings, which suggests the company is striking a balance between reinvesting in growth, and paying dividends. Given the quick rate of earnings per share growth and current level of payout, there may be a chance of further dividend increases in the future.
Another key way to measure a company’s dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. McCormick has delivered an average of 10% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It’s exciting to see that both earnings and dividends per share have grown rapidly over the past few years.
The Bottom Line
Should investors buy McCormick for the upcoming dividend? From a dividend perspective, we’re encouraged to see that earnings per share have been growing, the company is paying out less than half of its earnings, and a bit over half its free cash flow. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.
While it’s tempting to invest in McCormick for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. Case in point: We’ve spotted 1 warning sign for McCormick you should be aware of.
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.
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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.