It looks like Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 23rd of October, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 14th of November.
Delta Air Lines's upcoming dividend is US$0.4 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$1.6 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Delta Air Lines has a trailing yield of 3.0% on the current share price of $53.37. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Delta Air Lines has a low and conservative payout ratio of just 20% of its income after tax. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. It distributed 28% of its free cash flow as dividends, a comfortable payout level for most companies.
It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see Delta Air Lines's earnings per share have dropped 11% a year over the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. Since the start of our data, six years ago, Delta Air Lines has lifted its dividend by approximately 37% a year on average.
To Sum It Up
Is Delta Air Lines worth buying for its dividend? Delta Air Lines has comfortably low cash and profit payout ratios, which may mean the dividend is sustainable even in the face of a sharp decline in earnings per share. Still, we consider declining earnings to be a warning sign. Overall we're not hugely bearish on the stock, but there are likely better dividend investments out there.
Wondering what the future holds for Delta Air Lines? See what the 19 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.