Alaska Air Inc passes this 3-point dividend checklist

Ben Hobson

For income investors watching volatile market conditions, the comfort of a regular, reliable dividend is hard to overstate. But finding these kinds of shares isn't easy...

Excessive yields, weak financials and variable payouts can all lead to disappointment for income hunters. So what's needed is a go-to checklist that covers the most important aspects of dividend investment strategies. 

With a few key rules, you'll find it much easier to find better quality dividend stocks. Let's take a look at Alaska Air Inc (NYQ:ALK) as an example of how this works.

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Rules for finding dividend shares

1. High (but not excessive) dividend yield

Yield is an important dividend metric because it tells you the percentage of how much a company pays out in dividends each year relative to its share price. That makes it easy to compare dividend payouts right across the market. 

High yields are obviously appealing but be careful of excessively high yields (usually above 10%) because they can be a sign of problems. When the market suspects a company may be unable to sustain its dividend, the share price will fall and actually push the yield higher - and this can be a trap. So it pays to be wary of excessive yields.

  • Alaska Air Inc is a player in the market's Passenger Transportation Services industry. It has a dividend yield of 4.95%.

2. Dividend growth

Another important marker for income investors is a track record of dividend growth - as well as evidence that the growth will continue. Consistent dividend growth can be a pointer to companies that are carefully managing their payout policies - and rewarding their shareholders over time. Rather than aggressively dishing out earnings, dividend growth companies tend to have more modest yields, but are better at sustaining their payouts.

  • Alaska Air Inc has increased its dividend payout 6 times over the past 10 years - and the dividend per share is forecast to grow by 7.07% in the coming year.

3. Dividend safety

Attractively high yields obviously turn heads - but it’s important to know that a dividend is affordable. Dividend Cover (similar to the payout ratio) is a go-to measure of a company's net income over the dividend paid to shareholders. It’s calculated as earnings per share divided by the dividend per share and helps to indicate how sustainable a dividend is.

Dividend cover of less than 1x suggests that the company can’t fund the payout from its current year earnings - and might be relying on other sources of funds to pay it.

  • Alaska Air Inc has dividend cover of 2.49.

Next steps

With these three important rules, you can track down shares that offer a reasonable yield, with a record of growth and safety. On this basis, Alaska Air Inc could be worth a closer look.

To find out more you might want to take a look at the Alaska Air Inc StockReport from the award-winning research platform, Stockopedia. StockReports contain a goldmine of information in a single page and can help to inform your investment decisions.

To find more stocks like Alaska Air Inc, you'll need to equip yourself with professional-grade data and screening tools. This kind of information has traditionally been closely guarded by professional fund managers. But our team of financial analysts have carefully constructed this screen - Stockopedia’s Dividend Stock Ideas - which gives you everything you need. So why not come and take a look?

Plus, if you’d like to discover more about dividend investing, you can read our free ebook: How to Make Money in Dividend Stocks.