Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it’s exciting to see Hindustan Unilever Limited (NSE:HINDUNILVR) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next three days. The ex-dividend date is one business day before a company’s record date, which is the date on which the company determines which shareholders are entitled to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is of consequence because whenever a stock is bought or sold, the trade takes at least two business day to settle. Thus, you can purchase Hindustan Unilever‘s shares before the 14th of June in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 22nd of July.
The company’s upcoming dividend is ₹17.00 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of ₹34.00 per share to shareholders. Last year’s total dividend payments show that Hindustan Unilever has a trailing yield of 1.4% on the current share price of ₹2356. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
Check out our latest analysis for Hindustan Unilever
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. Last year, Hindustan Unilever paid out 91% of its income as dividends, which is above a level that we’re comfortable with, especially if the company needs to reinvest in its business. 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. Over the past year it paid out 132% of its free cash flow as dividends, which is uncomfortably high. We’re curious about why the company paid out more cash than it generated last year, since this can be one of the early signs that a dividend may be unsustainable.
Cash is slightly more important than profit from a dividend perspective, but given Hindustan Unilever‘s payouts were not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we would be concerned about the sustainability of this dividend.
Click here to see the company’s payout ratio, plus analyst estimates of its future dividends.
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 earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Fortunately for readers, Hindustan Unilever‘s earnings per share have been growing at 12% a year for the past five years. It’s not encouraging to see Hindustan Unilever paying out basically all of its earnings and cashflow to shareholders. We’re glad that earnings are growing rapidly, but we’re wary of the company stretching itself financially.
Many investors will assess a company’s dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Hindustan Unilever has delivered an average of 18% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It’s great to see earnings per share growing rapidly over several years, and dividends per share growing right along with it.
To Sum It Up
Has Hindustan Unilever got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Earnings per share have been growing, despite the company paying out a concerningly high percentage of its earnings and cashflow. We struggle to see how a company paying out so much of its earnings and cash flow will be able to sustain its dividend in a downturn, or reinvest enough into its business to continue growing earnings without borrowing heavily. With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we’d be inclined to steer clear of Hindustan Unilever.
So if you’re still interested in Hindustan Unilever despite it’s poor dividend qualities, you should be well informed on some of the risks facing this stock. For example, we’ve found 1 warning sign for Hindustan Unilever that we recommend you consider before investing in the business.
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.
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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. 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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