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The Case For Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (NASDAQ:KALU): Could It Be A Nice Addition To Your Dividend Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

Could Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (NASDAQ:KALU) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

A 2.5% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Kaiser Aluminum has some staying power. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 4.5% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Kaiser Aluminum for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

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NasdaqGS:KALU Historical Dividend Yield, February 7th 2020

Payout ratios

Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. In the last year, Kaiser Aluminum paid out 40% of its profit as dividends. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Kaiser Aluminum paid out a conservative 30% of its free cash flow as dividends last year. It's positive to see that Kaiser Aluminum's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Kaiser Aluminum's financial position here.

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. Kaiser Aluminum has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.96 in 2010, compared to US$2.68 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 11% per year over this time.

It's rare to find a company that has grown its dividends rapidly over ten years and not had any notable cuts, but Kaiser Aluminum has done it, which we really like.

Dividend Growth Potential

Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. While there may be fluctuations in the past , Kaiser Aluminum's earnings per share have basically not grown from where they were five years ago. Over the long term, steady earnings per share is a risk as the value of the dividends can be reduced by inflation. Kaiser Aluminum is paying out less than half of its earnings, which we like. Earnings per share growth have grown slowly, which is not great, but if the retained earnings can be reinvested effectively, future growth may be stronger.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company's dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. It's great to see that Kaiser Aluminum is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. Second, earnings growth is pretty limited, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. Kaiser Aluminum performs highly under this analysis, although it falls slightly short of our exacting standards. At the right valuation, it could be a solid dividend prospect.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 5 analysts we track are forecasting for Kaiser Aluminum for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.