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Readers hoping to buy First United Corporation (NASDAQ:FUNC) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. 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. It is important to be aware of the ex-dividend date because any trade on the stock needs to have been settled on or before the record date. Thus, you can purchase First United’s shares before the 13th of January in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 1st of February.

The company’s upcoming dividend is US$0.15 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.60 per share to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, First United has a trailing yield of approximately 3.1% on its current stock price of $19.6. 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! We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it’s growing.

See our latest analysis for First United

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. First United paid out just 23% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances.

Companies that pay out less in dividends than they earn in profits generally have more sustainable dividends. The lower the payout ratio, the more wiggle room the business has before it could be forced to cut the dividend.

Click here to see how much of its profit First United paid out over the last 12 months.

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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. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. This is why it’s a relief to see First United earnings per share are up 9.0% per annum over the last five years.

Many investors will assess a company’s dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the last four years, First United has lifted its dividend by approximately 14% a year on average. We’re glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.

The Bottom Line

Is First United worth buying for its dividend? It has been growing its earnings per share somewhat in recent years, although it reinvests more than half its earnings in the business, which could suggest there are some growth projects that have not yet reached fruition. We think this is a pretty attractive combination, and would be interested in investigating First United more closely.

On that note, you’ll want to research what risks First United is facing. For example – First United has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

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.

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.