Could Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (NASDAQ:KALU) Have The Makings Of Another Dividend Aristocrat?

Could Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (NASDAQ:KALU) 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.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Kaiser Aluminum. We’d guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 3.1% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Kaiser Aluminum for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

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

historic-dividend
NasdaqGS:KALU Historic Dividend August 20th 2020

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. So we need to form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Kaiser Aluminum paid out 111% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Kaiser Aluminum’s cash payout ratio last year was 21%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. It’s good to see that while Kaiser Aluminum’s dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we’d be concerned. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.

Is Kaiser Aluminum’s Balance Sheet Risky?

As Kaiser Aluminum’s dividend was not well covered by earnings, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With net debt of 0.69 times its EBITDA, Kaiser Aluminum has an acceptable level of debt.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company’s net interest expense. With EBIT of 4.57 times its interest expense, Kaiser Aluminum’s interest cover is starting to look a bit thin.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Kaiser Aluminum’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. Kaiser 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 10-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.0 in 2010, compared to US$2.7 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 11% per year over this time.

Dividends have been growing pretty quickly, and even more impressively, they haven’t experienced any notable falls during this period.

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 earnings per share have shrunk at 10% a year over the past five years. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Kaiser Aluminum’s earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

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. We’re not keen on the fact that Kaiser Aluminum paid out such a high percentage of its income, although its cashflow is in better shape. It’s not great to see earnings per share shrinking. The dividends have been relatively consistent, but we wonder for how much longer this will be true. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Kaiser Aluminum from a dividend perspective. It’s not that we think it’s a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. For instance, we’ve picked out 5 warning signs for Kaiser Aluminum that investors should take into consideration.

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

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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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