Federal Signal Corporation (NYSE:FSS) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 3 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 18th of November, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 1st of December.
Federal Signal's upcoming dividend is US$0.08 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.32 per share to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Federal Signal has a trailing yield of 1.0% on the current share price of $32.14. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. As a result, readers should always check whether Federal Signal has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. Federal Signal is paying out just 19% of its profit after tax, which is comfortably low and leaves plenty of breathing room in the case of adverse events. 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. What's good is that dividends were well covered by free cash flow, with the company paying out 23% of its cash flow last year.
It's positive to see that Federal Signal's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
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. Fortunately for readers, Federal Signal's earnings per share have been growing at 12% a year for the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing rapidly and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings within the business. This will make it easier to fund future growth efforts and we think this is an attractive combination - plus the dividend can always be increased later.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Federal Signal has delivered an average of 2.9% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. It's good to see both earnings and the dividend have improved - although the former has been rising much quicker than the latter, possibly due to the company reinvesting more of its profits in growth.
The Bottom Line
Has Federal Signal got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Federal Signal has grown its earnings per share while simultaneously reinvesting in the business. Unfortunately it's cut the dividend at least once in the past 10 years, but the conservative payout ratio makes the current dividend look sustainable. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.
In light of that, while Federal Signal has an appealing dividend, it's worth knowing the risks involved with this stock. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Federal Signal you should know about.
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.
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