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Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (NASDAQ:KALU) Is Yielding 2.5% - But Is It A Buy?

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Simply Wall St
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Today we'll take a closer look at Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (NASDAQ:KALU) 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. 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 5.1% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Kaiser Aluminum for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Kaiser Aluminum!

NasdaqGS:KALU Historical Dividend Yield, August 9th 2019
NasdaqGS:KALU Historical Dividend Yield, August 9th 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 41% of Kaiser Aluminum's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Kaiser Aluminum paid out 56% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation. 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.

We update our data on Kaiser Aluminum every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Kaiser Aluminum's dividend 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 2009, compared to US$2.40 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 9.6% per year over this time.

Companies like this, growing their dividend at a decent rate, can be very valuable over the long term, if the rate of growth can be maintained.

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. Kaiser Aluminum's EPS are effectively flat over the past five years. Flat earnings per share are acceptable for a time, but over the long term, the purchasing power of the company's dividends could be eroded 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. Firstly, we like that Kaiser Aluminum pays out a low fraction of earnings. It pays out a higher percentage of its cashflow, although this is within acceptable bounds. It hasn't demonstrated a strong ability to grow earnings per share, but we like that the dividend payments have been fairly consistent. Overall we think Kaiser Aluminum is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 5 Kaiser Aluminum analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 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.