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Shareholders Are Loving Hawaiian Holdings, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:HA) 1.7% Yield

Simply Wall St

Could Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:HA) 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. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

Some readers mightn't know much about Hawaiian Holdings's 1.7% dividend, as it has only been paying distributions for the last two years. A low dividend might not be a bad thing, if the company is reinvesting heavily and growing its sales and profits. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 7.7% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Hawaiian Holdings for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NasdaqGS:HA Historical Dividend Yield, November 1st 2019

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. 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, Hawaiian Holdings paid out 11% of its profit as dividends. With a low payout ratio, it looks like the dividend is comprehensively covered by earnings.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Hawaiian Holdings's cash payout ratio last year was 16%. Cash flows are typically lumpy, but this looks like an appropriately conservative payout. It's positive to see that Hawaiian Holdings'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.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Hawaiian Holdings's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

We update our data on Hawaiian Holdings 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. The dividend has not fluctuated much, but with a relatively short payment history, we can't be sure this is sustainable across a full market cycle. Its most recent annual dividend was US$0.48 per share, effectively flat on its first payment two years ago.

It's good to see at least some dividend growth. Yet with a relatively short dividend paying history, we wouldn't want to depend on this dividend too heavily.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend's purchasing power over the long term. It's good to see Hawaiian Holdings has been growing its earnings per share at 34% a year over the past five years. The company is only paying out a fraction of its earnings as dividends, and in the past been able to use the retained earnings to grow its profits rapidly - an ideal combination.

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. Firstly, we like that Hawaiian Holdings has low and conservative payout ratios. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. All things considered, Hawaiian Holdings looks like a strong prospect. At the right valuation, it could be something special.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 10 analysts we track are forecasting for Hawaiian Holdings 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%.

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.