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How Does International Consolidated Airlines Group, S.A. (LON:IAG) Fare As A Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at International Consolidated Airlines Group, S.A. (LON:IAG) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.

With a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if International Consolidated Airlines Group is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story . The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 2.9% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding International Consolidated Airlines Group for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

LSE:IAG Historical Dividend Yield, November 6th 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. In the last year, International Consolidated Airlines Group paid out 28% of its profit as dividends. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. International Consolidated Airlines Group paid out 76% of its cash flow last year. This may be sustainable but it does not leave much of a buffer for unexpected circumstances. It's positive to see that International Consolidated Airlines Group'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.

With a strong net cash balance, International Consolidated Airlines Group investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of International Consolidated Airlines Group's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. International Consolidated Airlines Group has been paying a dividend for the past four years. The company has been paying a stable dividend for a few years now, but we'd like to see more evidence of consistency over a longer period. During the past four-year period, the first annual payment was €0.20 in 2015, compared to €0.31 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 12% a year over that time.

We're not overly excited about the relatively short history of dividend payments, however the dividend is growing at a nice rate and we might take a closer look.

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. It's good to see International Consolidated Airlines Group has been growing its earnings per share at 76% a year over the past five years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. Above all, we're glad to see that International Consolidated Airlines Group pays out a low fraction of its earnings and, while it paid a higher percentage of cashflow, this also was within a normal range. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. Overall we think International Consolidated Airlines Group is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 25 analysts we track are forecasting for International Consolidated Airlines Group for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.