Loosen up. BCE’s dividend is secure – and will proceed to develop

In a current columnyou mentioned why you added extra BCE Inc. BCE-T share on yours dividend portfolio mannequin. Are you able to touch upon the ratio of dividends to web earnings? From a fast calculation, it appears to me that their dividends have been exceeding web earnings currently. Am I lacking one thing within the accounting that accounts for this and retains the inventory engaging in your dividend portfolio?

True, BCE’s annual dividend of $3.68 per share exceeds its estimated 2022 earnings of $3.40 per share, based on analysts polled by Refinitiv. The payout ratio, primarily based on earnings, is round 108 p.c.

It isn’t very best, however it doesn’t suggest the dividend is in peril both.

BCE makes use of a unique, much less stringent methodology to find out its payout ratio. As the corporate explains within the investor relations part of its web site: “We search to attain dividend development whereas sustaining our dividend payout ratio inside the coverage goal vary of 65 to 75 p.c of free money move.”

Free money move is usually outlined as an organization’s money from operations, much less capital expenditures to take care of or broaden its operations. As a result of free money move is unaffected by non-cash gadgets resembling depreciation that cut back an organization’s earnings, it typically provides a extra correct image of an organization’s means to take care of its dividend.

Jerome Dubreuil, an analyst at Desjardins Securities, predicts that BCE could have free money move of $3.64 per share in 2022, nonetheless barely in need of the dividend. He sees BCE’s free money move rising to $3.98 per share in 2023, which — even with an anticipated dividend enhance of round 5 p.c early subsequent yr — would cowl the dividend, albeit with the next payout ratio than BCE’s objectives.

After that, nonetheless, the payout ratio ought to proceed to say no. With BCE’s heavy capital funding in fiber-to-the-home web now peaking, analysts see BCE’s free money move rising over the subsequent few years as fiber rollout spending progressively slows. By 2025, RBC Dominion Securities analyst Drew McReynolds sees BCE’s money move rising to $5.19 per share.

Assuming the dividend continues to develop at about 5 p.c per yr — in keeping with BCE’s current historical past — the corporate would pay out about $4.26 per share in 2025. Dividing that quantity by projected free money move of $5.19 would give the payout ratio of round 82 per cent – ​​nonetheless on the excessive aspect, however transferring in the suitable route.

These are simply estimates and quite a bit can occur between from time to time. However BCE’s dividend, which yields about 5.8 p.c, is sort of actually secure and prone to proceed rising. The corporate has elevated its dividend by at the least 5 p.c for 14 consecutive years, and I do not see that streak ending anytime quickly.

It appears to me that if an investor buys an exchange-traded fund in a non-registered account and enrolls models in a dividend reinvestment plan, there can be no want to fret about phantom distributions. It’s because the whole distribution can be reinvested in order that it could all contribute to the adjusted value base. Does that appear proper to you too?

Not fairly. You’re appropriate that if you happen to reinvested the ETF’s common money distributions as a part of a dividend reinvestment plan, you (or your dealer) must enhance the adjusted value foundation of your models by the quantity of the reinvested distribution. It is the identical for dividend shares enrolled in a DRIP: Every time you purchase extra shares, it’s best to enhance your ACB by the quantity of the reinvested dividend.

Nonetheless, phantom distributions usually are not the identical as money distributions. So, elevating your ACB by the quantity of the ETF’s common money distributions — as essential as that’s — will not have in mind any phantom (non-cash) distributions the ETF might have reported. You might have to search for these reinvested distributions your self (extra on that later), as not all brokers embody them within the “guide worth” or “common value” figures for purchasers.

Here is the important thing factor to know: A phantom distribution is nothing greater than a bookkeeping train for tax functions. No money to vary palms. Sometimes, the one factor that’s “distributed” is the capital good points tax legal responsibility.

How does it relate to tax legal responsibility? Nicely, through the yr, ETFs usually purchase and promote shares. This triggers capital good points and capital losses. On the finish of the yr, if the ETF’s capital good points exceed its losses, the fund “distributes” the online capital good points (on paper solely) to unitholders, who’re liable for paying tax at their very own marginal fee (Be aware: solely 50 p.c of capital good points are included in revenue for taxation functions).

Nonetheless, the money from the ETF’s capital good points doesn’t really depart the fund. When an ETF sells shares, it would not let the proceeds sit, as that will have an effect on the ETF’s efficiency. As a substitute, it reinvests money internally.

This is the reason phantom distributions are also called reinvested distributions. Though the phantom distribution is said on the finish of the yr, the cash has already been reinvested weeks or months earlier than. A phantom distribution is merely an accounting maneuver that makes the unit holder liable for paying taxes on web capital good points which have already been reinvested.

Why does any of this matter? Nicely, if you happen to fail to boost your ACB by the quantity of any phantom, non-cash distribution, your ACB shall be decrease than it must be. Because of this, you’ll find yourself paying tax twice – annually when the capital acquire is realized and the second time if you ultimately promote your models.

To see if one in all your ETFs is anticipated to declare a phantom distribution this yr, see the record of estimated reinvested capital good points distributions printed by ETF suppliers in November. For instance, you may discover valuations for iShares ETFs right here, and for BMO ETFs right here.

E mail your inquiries to I am unable to reply emails personally, however I select particular inquiries to reply in my column.

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