Coming out of the Great Recession, Boeing (BA -2.84%) had gone through a decade of ho-hum results. Revenue grew just 28% between 2000 and 2010, and earnings per share declined 29%. But since the recession, air travel is soaring, earnings are up, and growing dividends have become a great reason to own Boeing stock. Will investors get another dividend increase this year?
Earnings momentum is strong
There are a lot of tailwinds helping Boeing right now. Commercial aircraft demand is strong, raw-materials costs are low, and financing costs are extremely low. Those factors have combined to drive revenue consistently higher over the past five years.
Commercial backlog was $426 billion at the end of the third quarter, just as production of the 787 ramps up and 737 MAX begins. The core commercial business that most consumers think of then they think of Boeing is strong. Questions for the company pertain more to the defense business.
Will military spending overshadow commercial aircraft?
Budget cuts for the U.S. military has been the one negative for Boeing of late, but it does look like any decline will be offset by gains in businesses like space and security. The company was awarded a five-year extension of its contract with the International Space Station and has been investing heavily in its drone capabilities for commercial applications.
In the third quarter, Defense, Space, and Security segment revenue was up 6% to $8.4 billion, and orders totaled $9 billion in the quarter. If there's a decline in military revenue it shouldn't be a huge negative for Boeing with all of the other growth opportunities it has.
The dividend has room to grow
With operations in a strong place, the next question is whether Boeing has the room to grow its dividend in 2016?
Debt stood at just $9.0 billion at the end of the third quarter, a very manageable level for a company that's already earned $6.3 billion from operations in the first three quarters of the year. Dividends paid over the past year are only 44% of earnings per share:
All things considered, I think Boeing has more than enough room to raise its dividend in 2016 and could even take out debt to buy back shares. For investors looking for a great dividend stock right now, Boeing is a great option. It has a lot of tailwinds in its business and generates a lot of cash, just what dividend investors want to see.