December 2, 2020

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Strategic Education, Inc. (NASDAQ:STRA) Looks Like A Good Stock, And It’s Going Ex-Dividend Soon

4 min read
Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you’re one of those...

Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you’re one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that Strategic Education, Inc. (NASDAQ:STRA) is about to go ex-dividend in just 3 days. You will need to purchase shares before the 3rd of September to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 14th of September.

Strategic Education’s next dividend payment will be US$0.60 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$2.40 to shareholders. Last year’s total dividend payments show that Strategic Education has a trailing yield of 2.3% on the current share price of $103.69. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it’s also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn’t going to kill our golden goose! So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.

Check out our latest analysis for Strategic Education

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. Strategic Education paid out a comfortable 44% of its profit last year. 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. Fortunately, it paid out only 31% of its free cash flow in the past year.

It’s encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don’t drop precipitously.

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

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. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. This is why it’s a relief to see Strategic Education earnings per share are up 3.7% per annum over the last five years. Recent earnings growth has been limited. However, companies that see their growth slow can often choose to pay out a greater percentage of earnings to shareholders, which could see the dividend continue to rise.

Another key way to measure a company’s dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Strategic Education’s dividend payments per share have declined at 2.2% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. Strategic Education is a rare case where dividends have been decreasing at the same time as earnings per share have been improving. It’s unusual to see, and could point to unstable conditions in the core business, or more rarely an intensified focus on reinvesting profits.

Final Takeaway

Is Strategic Education worth buying for its dividend? Earnings per share growth has been growing somewhat, and Strategic Education is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends. This is interesting for a few reasons, as it suggests management may be reinvesting heavily in the business, but it also provides room to increase the dividend in time. We would prefer to see earnings growing faster, but the best dividend stocks over the long term typically combine significant earnings per share growth with a low payout ratio, and Strategic Education is halfway there. Overall we think this is an attractive combination and worthy of further research.

On that note, you’ll want to research what risks Strategic Education is facing. For example, we’ve found 3 warning signs for Strategic Education that we recommend you consider before investing in the business.

If you’re in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top 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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