Readers hoping to buy West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (TSE:WFT) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You will need to purchase shares before the 29th of September to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 14th of October.
West Fraser Timber's next dividend payment will be CA$0.20 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed CA$0.80 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, West Fraser Timber has a trailing yield of 1.3% on the current stock price of CA$61.61. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether West Fraser Timber's dividend is reliable and sustainable. 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. West Fraser Timber paid a dividend last year despite being unprofitable. This might be a one-off event, but it's not a sustainable state of affairs in the long run. With the recent loss, it's important to check if the business generated enough cash to pay its dividend. If West Fraser Timber didn't generate enough cash to pay the dividend, then it must have either paid from cash in the bank or by borrowing money, neither of which is sustainable in the long term. Fortunately, it paid out only 41% of its free cash flow in the past year.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Stocks with flat earnings can still be attractive dividend payers, but it is important to be more conservative with your approach and demand a greater margin for safety when it comes to dividend sustainability. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. West Fraser Timber 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.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, West Fraser Timber has lifted its dividend by approximately 30% a year on average.
We update our analysis on West Fraser Timber 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 West Fraser Timber? First, it's not great to see the company paying a dividend despite being loss-making over the last year. On the plus side, the dividend was covered by free cash flow." It's not that we think West Fraser Timber is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.
Having said that, if you're looking at this stock without much concern for the dividend, you should still be familiar of the risks involved with West Fraser Timber. We've identified 2 warning signs with West Fraser Timber (at least 1 which can't be ignored), and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
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.
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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