Northern Trust Corporation (NASDAQ:NTRS) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next four days. The ex-dividend date occurs one day before the record date which is the day on which shareholders need to be on the company's books in order 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. Accordingly, Northern Trust investors that purchase the stock on or after the 9th of June will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 1st of July.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$0.70 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$2.80 per share. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, Northern Trust has a trailing yield of approximately 2.5% on its current stock price of $110.03. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are 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. Fortunately Northern Trust's payout ratio is modest, at just 39% of profit.
When a company paid out less in dividends than it earned in profit, this generally suggests its dividend is affordable. The lower the % of its profit that it pays out, the greater the margin of safety for the dividend if the business enters a downturn.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Fortunately for readers, Northern Trust's earnings per share have been growing at 11% a year for the past five years.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Northern Trust has delivered an average of 9.6% 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.
Should investors buy Northern Trust for the upcoming dividend? Typically, companies that are growing rapidly and paying out a low fraction of earnings are keeping the profits for reinvestment in the business. Perhaps even more importantly - this can sometimes signal management is focused on the long term future of the business. We think this is a pretty attractive combination, and would be interested in investigating Northern Trust more closely.
Curious what other investors think of Northern Trust? See what analysts are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
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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.