Why It Might Not Make Sense To Buy Horace Mann Educators Corporation (NYSE:HMN) For Its Upcoming Dividend

It looks like Horace Mann Educators Corporation (NYSE:HMN) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 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. Meaning, you will need to purchase Horace Mann Educators' shares before the 14th of December to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 30th of December.

The company's upcoming dividend is US$0.32 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.28 per share to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Horace Mann Educators has a trailing yield of 3.4% on the current share price of $37.75. 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.

See our latest analysis for Horace Mann Educators

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Horace Mann Educators paid out 94% of its earnings, which is more than we're comfortable with, unless there are mitigating circumstances.

When the dividend payout ratio is high, as it is in this case, the dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut in the future.

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

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Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Horace Mann Educators's earnings per share have fallen at approximately 7.5% a year over the previous five years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.

Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Horace Mann Educators has delivered 9.4% 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. Horace Mann Educators is already paying out a high percentage of its income, so without earnings growth, we're doubtful of whether this dividend will grow much in the future.

The Bottom Line

Is Horace Mann Educators worth buying for its dividend? Not only are earnings per share shrinking, but Horace Mann Educators is paying out a disconcertingly high percentage of its profit as dividends. Generally we think dividend investors should avoid businesses in this situation, as high payout ratios and declining earnings can lead to the dividend being cut. These characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance, and investors may not be happy with the results of owning this stock for its dividend.

Although, if you're still interested in Horace Mann Educators and want to know more, you'll find it very useful to know what risks this stock faces. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Horace Mann Educators you should be aware of.

If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.

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.

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