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Is It Smart To Buy CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend?

Simply Wall St
·4-min read

Readers hoping to buy CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS) 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 21st of October to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 2nd of November.

CVS Health's next dividend payment will be US$0.50 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$2.00 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that CVS Health has a trailing yield of 3.4% on the current share price of $59.32. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether CVS Health's dividend is reliable and sustainable. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.

Check out our latest analysis for CVS Health

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. CVS Health paid out a comfortable 32% of its profit last year. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. The good news is it paid out just 19% of its free cash flow in the last year.

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.

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

historic-dividend
historic-dividend

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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. This is why it's a relief to see CVS Health earnings per share are up 9.7% per annum over the last five years. Management have been reinvested more than half of the company's earnings within the business, and the company has been able to grow earnings with this retained capital. Organisations that reinvest heavily in themselves typically get stronger over time, which can bring attractive benefits such as stronger earnings and dividends.

Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. CVS Health has delivered an average of 19% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.

Final Takeaway

From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid CVS Health? Earnings per share have been growing moderately, and CVS Health is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends, which is an attractive combination as it suggests the company is investing in growth. We would prefer to see earnings growing faster, but the best dividend stocks over the long term typically combine significant earnings per share growth with a low payout ratio, and CVS Health is halfway there. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.

On that note, you'll want to research what risks CVS Health is facing. Our analysis shows 1 warning sign for CVS Health and you should be aware of this before buying any shares.

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.

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.

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