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Two FTSE 250 dividend stocks I’d sell in March

Furniture retailer Dunelm Group (LSE: DNLM) has proved itself a great pick for dividend seekers for some time now, a steady stream of earnings growth allowing payouts to grow at an annualised rate of 12.4% in the past five years alone.

And City analysts do not see this rich record ending, even if Dunelm’s bottom line is set to experience some near-term trouble (a 10% decline is currently forecast for the year to June 2017).  A dividend of 25.5p per share is predicted for the current period, up from 25.1p in fiscal 2016 and yielding an impressive 4%.

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But the good news does not end here for income chasers, an anticipated 14% earnings rebound in 2018 expected to shove the payout to 31.6p. This projection yields a market-bashing 4.9%.

Investors shouldn’t be breaking out the bunting, however, certainly not in my opinion. Rather, Dunelm’s recent slide to five-year lows illustrates the company’s increasingly-murky profits outlook as retail conditions worsen.

The Dunelm Mill owner saw like-for-like sales slip 1.6% during July-December, the company noting that “trading was slightly softer than we would have liked due to a weaker market.” Underlying revenues at Dunelm rose 2.5% over the 12 months to June, by comparison.

However, rising economic pressures on consumers’ spending power is not the only reason for Dunelm to be concerned, with British shoppers steadily falling out of love with large retail parks and instead jumping online to do their shopping.

I reckon Dunelm’s reputation as a reliable dividend grower could come under serious pressure in the months and years ahead.

Brexit banger

Outsourcing colossus Mitie Group (LSE: MTO) is a stock whose bottom-line — and consequently dividend outlook — is becoming ever-murkier as the complications of Brexit take their toll.

Mitie Group has long been a reliable earnings generator thanks to the breadth of services offered across a variety of industries. This has allowed engineered steady-if-unspectacular earnings expansion for many years, allowing the Bristol company to lift dividends at an annualised rate of 4.7% during the last half decade alone.

More recently, however, Mitie Group has issued a series of profit warnings as the uncertainty caused by EU withdrawal has dented business investment. Just last month the support services firm noted that “client deferrals and investment plan delays” continue to dent trading.

And the situation doesn’t look likely to improve any time soon. Indeed, latest ONS figures showed business investment fall 1% during October-December from the previous three months. And for the year as a whole, a 1.5% decline in corporate outlay in 2016 marked the first annual drop since the 2008/2009 global recession.

The City expects a 47% earnings decline at Mitie Group in the year to March 2017 to drag the dividend to 7.8p per share from 12.1p in 2016. This figure still yields a market-beating 3.8%, however.

But I reckon investors should still give the firm short shrift, even though a predicted 30% earnings recovery in fiscal 2018 is anticipated to push payouts higher again, to 8.4p. Such heady predictions are in danger of sharp downward revisions as Brexit-troubles likely intensify, in my opinion.

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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