Fastenal Company (NASDAQ:FAST) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. The ex-dividend date is usually set to be one business day before the record date which is the cut-off date on which you must be present on the company's books as a shareholder in order to receive the 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. This means that investors who purchase Fastenal's shares on or after the 5th of December will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 20th of December.
The company's upcoming dividend is US$0.38 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.40 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Fastenal has a trailing yield of 2.3% on the current share price of $59.64. 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 Fastenal has been able to grow its dividends, or if the dividend might be cut.
View our latest analysis for Fastenal
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. Fastenal paid out 68% of its earnings to investors last year, a normal payout level for most businesses. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether Fastenal generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out more than half (65%) of its free cash flow in the past year, which is within an average range for most companies.
It's positive to see that Fastenal'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.
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 business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. For this reason, we're glad to see Fastenal's earnings per share have risen 15% per annum over the last five years. Fastenal is paying out a bit over half its earnings, which suggests the company is striking a balance between reinvesting in growth, and paying dividends. This is a reasonable combination that could hint at some further dividend increases in the future.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Fastenal has delivered an average of 13% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. Both per-share earnings and dividends have both been growing rapidly in recent times, which is great to see.
The Bottom Line
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Fastenal? It's good to see earnings are growing, since all of the best dividend stocks grow their earnings meaningfully over the long run. That's why we're glad to see Fastenal's earnings per share growing, although as we saw, the company is paying out more than half of its earnings and cashflow - 68% and 65% respectively. All things considered, we are not particularly enthused about Fastenal from a dividend perspective.
Curious what other investors think of Fastenal? See what analysts are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow.
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.
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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.