Is TC Energy's 5.7% Yield Safe?

Energy infrastructure giant TC Energy (TSX:TRP)(NYSE:TRP) has typically been a safe investment to hold. But its exposure to the oil and gas industry, especially amid lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has made it a bit of a riskier buy over the past year. The stock has fallen 19% and it has even underperformed the TSX and its 3% returns during that period.

TC Energy still pays a quarterly dividend of $0.81, which yields 5.7% today. That's a decent payout for the stock and if you were to invest $25,000 into TC Energy, you could expect to earn more than $1,400 per year in dividend income at that rate.

But how safe is that dividend moving forward? To assess it, let's consider the company's current payout ratio.

Payout ratio looks at the company's current profitability and compares it with how much it is paying out in dividends. Over the trailing 12 months, TC Energy has reported a profit of $4.73 per share. On an annual basis, it would currently be paying investors $3.24 in dividends for each share that they own of the company. That's about 68% of its earnings, which appears to be manageable.

In the past, TC Energy has increased its dividend payments by a compounded annual growth rate of between 8% and 10%. After 2021, the company still continues to expect to be able to grow its dividend between a rate of 5% and 7%.

For investors, this could be a great opportunity to lock in a great dividend stock at a cheap price. Currently, TC Energy stock trades at just 12 times its earnings.