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Why You Should Leave Kellogg Company (NYSE:K)'s Upcoming Dividend On The Shelf

Simply Wall St

Kellogg Company ( NYSE:K ) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. You can purchase shares before the 30th of August in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 13th of September.

Kellogg's next dividend payment will be US$0.57 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$2.28 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Kellogg stock has a trailing yield of around 3.6% on the current share price of $63.25. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Kellogg

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. Its dividend payout ratio is 89% of profit, which means the company is paying out a majority of its earnings. The relatively limited profit reinvestment could slow the rate of future earnings growth We'd be worried about the risk of a drop in earnings. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. It paid out 76% of its free cash flow as dividends, which is within usual limits but will limit the company's ability to lift the dividend if there's no growth.

It's positive to see that Kellogg'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.

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

NYSE:K Historical Dividend Yield, August 25th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Kellogg's earnings per share have dropped 13% a year over the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.

The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Kellogg has delivered 5.3% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. That's intriguing, but the combination of growing dividends despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out a larger percentage of profits. Kellogg is already paying out 89% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.

To Sum It Up

Should investors buy Kellogg for the upcoming dividend? While earnings per share are shrinking, it's encouraging to see that at least Kellogg's dividend appears sustainable, with earnings and cashflow payout ratios that are within reasonable bounds. With the way things are shaping up from a dividend perspective, we'd be inclined to steer clear of Kellogg.

Wondering what the future holds for Kellogg? See what the 17 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow

We wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see, though. Here's a list of interesting dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com . 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.