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Why Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. (NYSE:RS) Is A Dividend Rockstar

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll take a closer look at Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. (NYSE:RS) 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.

While Reliance Steel & Aluminum's 2.6% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 7.6% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Reliance Steel & Aluminum for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Reliance Steel & Aluminum!

NYSE:RS Historical Dividend Yield, June 4th 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. Reliance Steel & Aluminum paid out 22% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. We'd say its dividends are thoroughly covered by earnings.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Reliance Steel & Aluminum paid out a conservative 28% of its free cash flow as dividends last year. It's positive to see that Reliance Steel & 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.

We update our data on Reliance Steel & 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. Reliance Steel & 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. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.40 in 2009, compared to US$2.20 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 19% 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 Reliance Steel & Aluminum has done it, which we really like.

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 Reliance Steel & Aluminum has been growing its earnings per share at 17% a year over the past 5 years. Rapid earnings growth and a low payout ratio suggests this company has been effectively reinvesting in its business. Should that continue, this company could have a bright future.

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 Reliance Steel & Aluminum has low and conservative payout ratios. Next, growing earnings per share and steady dividend payments is a great combination. Reliance Steel & Aluminum has met all of our criteria, including having strong cash flow that covers the dividend. We definitely think it would be worthwhile looking closer.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 8 analysts we track are forecasting for Reliance Steel & 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%.

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.