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Dividend Investors: Don't Be Too Quick To Buy Webster Financial Corporation (NYSE:WBS) For Its Upcoming Dividend

·3-min read

Readers hoping to buy Webster Financial Corporation (NYSE:WBS) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. The ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date, which is the cut-off date for shareholders to be present on the company's books to be eligible for a dividend payment. The ex-dividend date is an important date to be aware of as any purchase of the stock made on or after this date might mean a late settlement that doesn't show on the record date. In other words, investors can purchase Webster Financial's shares before the 11th of May in order to be eligible for the dividend, which will be paid on the 27th of May.

The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.40 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$1.60 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Webster Financial stock has a trailing yield of around 3.3% on the current share price of $48.16. 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.

View our latest analysis for Webster Financial

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. Webster Financial is paying out an acceptable 61% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies.

Generally speaking, the lower a company's payout ratios, the more resilient its dividend usually is.

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

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historic-dividend

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. With that in mind, we're discomforted by Webster Financial's 6.8% per annum decline in earnings in the past five years. Such a sharp decline casts doubt on the future sustainability of the dividend.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the last 10 years, Webster Financial has lifted its dividend by approximately 23% a year on average. That's interesting, but the combination of a growing dividend despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out more of the company's profits. This can be valuable for shareholders, but it can't go on forever.

The Bottom Line

Is Webster Financial worth buying for its dividend? We're not overly enthused to see Webster Financial's earnings in retreat at the same time as the company is paying out more than half of its earnings as dividends to shareholders. These characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance, and investors may not be happy with the results of owning this stock for its dividend.

With that in mind though, if the poor dividend characteristics of Webster Financial don't faze you, it's worth being mindful of the risks involved with this business. Be aware that Webster Financial is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis, and 1 of those shouldn't be ignored...

Generally, we wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see. Here's a curated list of interesting stocks that are strong dividend payers.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.

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