Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see Columbia Sportswear Company (NASDAQ:COLM) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Typically, the ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date which is the date on which a company determines the shareholders eligible 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. Meaning, you will need to purchase Columbia Sportswear's shares before the 16th of August to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 31st of August.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.30 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$1.20 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Columbia Sportswear has a trailing yield of 1.6% on the current stock price of $76.22. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
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. Columbia Sportswear is paying out just 22% of its profit after tax, which is comfortably low and leaves plenty of breathing room in the case of adverse events. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Columbia Sportswear generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out 98% of its free cash flow in the form of dividends last year, which is outside the comfort zone for most businesses. Companies usually need cash more than they need earnings - expenses don't pay themselves - so it's not great to see it paying out so much of its cash flow.
Columbia Sportswear paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn't generate enough cash to cover the dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to Columbia Sportswear's ability to maintain its dividend.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. 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, Columbia Sportswear's earnings per share have been growing at 14% a year for the past five years. Earnings have been growing at a decent rate, but we're concerned dividend payments consumed most of the company's cash flow over the past year.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, Columbia Sportswear has increased its dividend at approximately 11% a year on average. Both per-share earnings and dividends have both been growing rapidly in recent times, which is great to see.
To Sum It Up
Is Columbia Sportswear an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? We're glad to see the company has been improving its earnings per share while also paying out a low percentage of income. However, it's not great to see it paying out what we see as an uncomfortably high percentage of its cash flow. Overall, it's not a bad combination, but we feel that there are likely more attractive dividend prospects out there.
So while Columbia Sportswear looks good from a dividend perspective, it's always worthwhile being up to date with the risks involved in this stock. Our analysis shows 2 warning signs for Columbia Sportswear that we strongly recommend you have a look at before investing in the company.
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.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.