Finding the best dividend stocks is a difficult process. It requires constant screening of the dividend achievers and dividend aristocrat indexes, in order to identify companies which are worth your time to further research. Research entails reading analysts reports, annual company reports, staying up to date on news in the industry and competitors in general and constantly evaluating whether the stock is worth your investment or not. If you find the right dividend stocks however, the rewards could be tremendous. Sometimes however certain stocks would not be widely followed by dividend investors, because of their small size. Another reason could be because they are very close to getting on the dividend achievers list, but are not there yet.
The companies in the news include Realty Income (O), Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (WSM), ConocoPhillips (COP), Raytheon Company (RTN), Brinker International, Inc. (EAT), Starbucks (SBUX) and Hingham Institution for Savings (HIFS).
Realty Income Corporation (O) engages in the acquisition and ownership of commercial retail real estate properties in the United States. The company announced a miniscule distribution increase to $0.1433125 per share from $0.143 per share. This was the 50th consecutive quarterly increase and the 57th dividend increase since this dividend achiever went public in 1994. The stock currently yields 5.60%. Check my analysis of the stock.
Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (WSM) operates as a specialty retailer of home products. The company increased its quarterly dividend to 13 cents/share from 12 cents/share. The company doesn’t have a long enough history of paying rising dividends and yields only 1.90%.
ConocoPhillips (COP) operates as an integrated energy company worldwide. The company raised dividends by 10% to 55 cents/share. This represents the tenth consecutive annual dividend increase for ConocoPhillips. The stock yields 4.30%.
Raytheon Company (RTN) provides electronics, mission systems integration, and other capabilities in the areas of sensing, effects, and command, control, communications, and intelligence systems, as well as mission support services in the United States and internationally. The company boosted quarterly dividends by 21% to 37.50 cents/share. This is the sixth consecutive annual dividend increase for the company. The stock yields 2.60% .
Hingham Institution for Savings (HIFS) provides various financial services to individuals and small businesses in Massachusetts. The company’s board of directors approved a 4.5% increase in its quarterly dividend to 23 cents/share. The company has raised quarterly distributions for 15 consecutive years. The stock is thinly traded, and the market cap is only 70 million dollars. The stock yields 3.30%.
Brinker International, Inc. (EAT) owns, develops, operates, and franchises various restaurant brands primarily in the United States. The company increased its quarterly dividend by 27% to 14 cents/share. This was the first dividend increase since 2007. The company doesn’t seem to have followed a strategy of consistent dividend increases every year. The stock yields 2.90%.
Starbucks (SBUX) engages in the purchase, roasting, and sale of whole bean coffees worldwide. The company’s board of directors approved the first quarterly dividend ever in the company’s 25 year history. The stock would pay 10 cents/quarter. The indicated yield is 1.60%.
I was able to uncover a hidden gem in this week’s overview of dividend increase announcements. The gem is called Hingham Institution for Savings (HIFS), a thinly traded stock with a market capitalization of $70 million dollars. The company yields more than 3%, has a low payout ratio and trades at a P/E of 9. Only 22% of the company’s stock is owned by institutions, and few analysts seem to follow this stock. I would be researching this company of course in a future stock report.
Realty Income (O) seems to keep raising distributions by smaller and smaller amounts. Given the high FFO payout and the lowest yield in years, I view the stock as a hold. The dividend announcement from Starbucks (SBUX) was bullish. If the company manages to boost distributions for at least one decade, I would definitely consider it for inclusion to my portfolio.
Full Disclosure: Long O
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With the market hitting fresh 17 month highs, investors have to look hard in order to find attractively valued opportunities. Plenty of stocks such as Aflac (AFL), Emerson Electric (EMR), 3M (MMM) and Realty Income (O) ,which in early 2009 rewarded enterprising dividend investors with their highest yields in a decade, are now yielding much less. Many stocks are also trading at rich valuations, which suggests that investors these days are willing to pay a premium for future growth.
The rapid increase in prices since March 2009 lows has many dividend investors wondering whether they should lock in some or all of their gains today. Investors who were able to purchase stocks in 2008 and 2009 might be sitting at gains, which seem equal to the dividend payments they could expect from a stock for several years to come. The issue with this thinking is that dividends typically increase over time on average while cash in the bank typically loses its purchasing power over time. As a result the investor who takes profits today might lose on any increases in dividends as well as on any future price gains. They would also have to find a decent vehicle to park their cash, which is getting harder and harder to find these days.
Because of the reasons stated above I would not consider selling even if my position went up 1000%. It would not be a wise idea to sell a stock which was purchased as a long term holding and its business hasn’t changed much. What is important is that the original yield on cost that has been locked with the purchase in 2008 or 2009 is there to stay, as long as the dividend is at least maintained. I would only consider selling when the dividend is cut. If a stock you purchased had a current yield of 8%, your yield on cost of is 8%. The nice part about this is that you keep receiving 8% on your original cost as long as the dividend is maintained. Then it doesn't really matter if the stock is currently yielding 1% or 2% - you still earn 8% on your cost. If the dividend payment is increased then your yield on cost rises as well. Companies like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) or Abbott Labs (ABT) for example have low current yields of 3%, but their growing dividend payments produce substantial yields on cost over time.
If you were thinking of selling a stock which generates great yield on cost, you should remember that currently the market is overvalued. But the market could keep getting overvalued for a far longer period than you or I could remain sane. Retirees need income, and in the current low interest environment dividend stocks seem to be the perfect vehicle for an inflation adjusted source of income in retirement.
Back in the late 1980s Procter & Gamble (PG) yielded less than 3% for the first time in decades, which was much lower than the 4% average yield that investors received in the mid 1980s. In early 1991 the stock traded at 10.50, yielded 2.40%, and paid 6.25 cents/quarter. Although bonds yielded at least three times what P&G yielded at the time, they couldn’t provide rising income payments and the possibility for high capital gains as well. By early 1994 Procter & Gamble stock increased to $14, after a 2 to 1 stock split, paid 8.25 cents/quarter and yielded 2.20%. In early 1999 Procter & Gamble traded at $46.50 and had split 2:1 in 1997. The company paid out 14.25 cents/share but yielded only 1.30%. The yield on cost for the early 1991 investor was a more comfortable 5.50%. Fast forward to 2010 and Procter & Gamble is trading close to $64 and yielding 2.80%. The yield on cost on the original 1991 purchase is 16.80%. This example goes on to show that selling Procter & Gamble (PG) when it became overvalued, was not a very good idea, because the company kept generating higher earnings and kept increasing its dividend payment. While investors could have found other stocks to reinvest Procter & Gamble (PG) dividends or allocate any new cash, they would have been well off simply holding on to Procter & Gamble (PG) and other dividend raisers despite them being overvalued for extended periods of time.
Right now Procter & Gamble (PG) looks like it could again stay below 3% for the foreseeable future. This time I am planning on adding to my position around $59 ,even though it is not exactly trading at a 3% yield.
Full Disclosure: Long ABT, AFL, EMR, JNJ, MMM, O, PG
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Most dividend investors require consistency from their stock positions. As a result companies which are able to generate rising dividend income over time are viewed more favorably in comparison to companies such as Pfizer (GE) or General Electric (GE), which have followed an inconsistent dividend policy over the past two years.
Just last week General Electric (GE) forecasted that there is a high chance for a dividend increase in 2011, coupled with a resumption of the company’s stock buyback plan and retirement of the company’s preferred stock. General Electric (GE) has had a pretty terrible timing of its share buyback plan over the past decade. The company spent billions between 2005 and 2007 repurchasing 513 million shares when prices were high. By 2009 the company had issued 517 million shares at much lower prices, in order to obtain liquidity in the wake of the global financial crisis. If the company does start increasing dividends in 2011 however, this could be a bullish sign. It would take at least a decade of consistent dividend raises however in order for the dividend to reach its previous levels of 31 cents/share.
Compare this to the consistency of PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP), which manufactures, markets, and sells various foods, snacks, and carbonated and non-carbonated beverages worldwide. Last week the company announced a 7% increase in its quarterly dividend to 48 cents/share. This is the thirty-eight consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend aristocrat. The company's Board of Directors also authorized the repurchase of up to $15 billion of PepsiCo common stock through June 2013. The stock currently yields 2.90%. Check my analysis of the stock. Dividend author Dave Van Knapp has included the company in his most recent book "The Top 40 Dividend Stocks for 2010". The company is also one of the Best Dividends Stocks for the Long Run.
PepsiCo (PEP) is a reliable dividend stock, which is attractively priced at the moment despite its forward yield of 2.90% being a tad lower than my entry requirement of 3%. My ideal entry price at PepsiCo would be $64, for those investors waiting for better prices. Investors have to weigh in the risks of waiting for a better price, versus the risk of missing out completely on any upside action if the company doesn’t go below $64/share.
Full Disclosure: Long PEP
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Abbott Laboratories engages in the discovery, development, manufacture, and sale of health care products worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical Products, Diagnostic Products, Nutritional Products, and Vascular Products. The company is a component of the S&P 500 and the dividend aristocrat indexes. Abbott Laboratories has increased dividends for 38 years in a row. Most recently Abbott raised its quarterly dividend payment by 10% to $0.44/share. Dividend author Dave Van Knapp has included the company in his most recent book "The Top 40 Dividend Stocks for 2010".
For the past decade this dividend stock has delivered a total return of 7.3% annually.
At the same time the company has managed to increase earnings per share by 8.40% on average since the year 2000. For fiscal years 2010 and 2011, analysts expect EPS to increase to $4.24 and $4.77. This would be a nice increase from the $3.69 in earnings per share that the company booked for FY 2009. Analysts also expect an over 7% increase in sales for FY 2010 to 33 billion dollars, excluding the recently completed acquisition of Belgium based Solvay’s pharmaceuticals unit. This deal would add $0.10/share in FY 2010 and $0.20/share in FY 2011. I like the strong product pipeline of Abbott, as well as the potential for new launches. There could be some generic competition for some of Abbott’s products but overall the forecast for future revenue increases is quite rosy. Last year’s acquisition of Advanced Medical Optics exposes the company in the rapidly growing market for LASIK and Cataract procedures.
The company also delivers a little over half of its sales from international markets. Almost 18% of its sales come from the drug Humira, which treats rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. This drug is expected to continue delivering strong sales growth in the next few years for Abbott Labs. In June 2009, a federal jury has returned a verdict of $1.67 billion against Abbott Laboratories in a patent infringement suit. The other party to the suit was Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). Abbott Labs (ABT) is currently appealing the verdict.
The ROE has largely remained between 12% and 28% after falling from its 2000 highs over 34%.
The company has managed to increase its annual dividend by 8.60% on average over the past decade. A 9% increase in dividends translates into the dividend payment doubling every 8 years. Since 1986 Abbott Laboratories has managed to double its dividend every 6 years on average.
The dividend payout ratio has largely remained above 50% over the past decade, with spikes in 2001 and 2006 caused by lower earnings. A lower payout is always a plus, since it leaves room for consistent dividend growth minimizing the impact of short-term fluctuations in earnings. Currently the dividend payout ratio is below 50%.
Overall Abbott Laboratories (ABT) is attractively valued currently, trading at a P/E of 15, dividend yield of 3.20% and an adequately covered dividend. While I don't expect to earn as much as this early Abbott Labs (ABT) investor, I still believe that there is room for substantial total returns in this position. I would consider be adding to this position.
Full Disclosure: Long ABT
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The Procter & Gamble Company engages in the manufacture and sale of consumer goods worldwide. The company operates in three global business units (GBUs): Beauty, Health and Well-Being, and Household Care. This dividend aristocrat has raised distributions for 53 consecutive years.
This dividend stock has delivered an average annual total return of 3.30% over the past decade.
Earnings per share have grown at an average pace of 12.50% per annum. For FY 2010, analysts expect the company to earn $4.15/share, which is higher than 2009’s EPS of $3.58. For FY 2011 analysts expect Procter & Gamble to earn $4.10/share. The company has focused on cost cutting, improving efficiencies and streamlining its product portfolio over the past few years. It sold its Folgers Unit and exited its pharmaceuticals operations. As consumer spending picks up, the company’s recognizable brand products could get a nice boost in sales, especially if it increases advertising. Emerging and developing markets, product innovation, focusing on high margin products as well as strategic acquisitions could deliver strong earnings growth over the next decade. The demand for the company’s line of consumer products is generally stable and not much affected by overall economic conditions. The company continues to benefit from its acquisition of Gillette, through cost synergies and sales growth opportunities from its diverse sales channels.
The annual dividend per share has increased by an average of 11% annually, which is below the growth in earnings. An 11% growth in dividends translates into the payment doubling every almost every six and a half years. Procter & Gamble has managed to double its distributions every seven years on average since 1973.
The return on equity has decreased since the acquisition of Gillette in 2006.
The dividend payout ratio has consistently remained below 50%. A lower payout is always a plus, since it leaves room for consistent dividend growth minimizing the impact of short-term fluctuations in earnings.
I think that Procter & Gamble is attractively valued with its low price/earnings multiple of 15, a not too high DPR. However the current dividend yield is below the 3% minimum threshold that I have set. Two of PG’s competitors, Colgate-Palmolive (CL) and Kimberly-Clark (KMB) trade at P/E multiples of 19 and 13 times earnings respectively. Colgate-Palmolive currently spots a 2.60% dividend yield, while Kimberly-Clark has a 4.00% yield. I would consider adding to my Procter & Gamble holdings on dips below $59. [more]
China seems to be the engine of global growth these days. The country has managed to turn itself into the manufacturing facility of the world, producing almost everything that consumers in the western world need. It is being said that investing in China in 2010 is similar to investing in USA in 1910 or investing in the UK in 1810. Whether this turns out to be true or not, the Chinese economy has managed to expand rapidly over the past decade, fueled by demand for cheap goods which its skilled and low-cost labor force produces for worldwide markets. While there are plenty of ways to invest in the Chinese economic growth, including Chinese listed ADRs traded on the NYSE or Nasdaq, few have a long history of dividend increases, which would make them an interesting income play.
Most global companies do have a presence in China however. Some of these companies have had operations in the country for years, and have also developed a strategy for expanding their business there, which would provide strong earnings and dividend growths for the future. Some of these companies include well known dividend stocks such as McDonald’s (MCD), Coca Cola (KO), Wal-Mart (WMT) and Philip Morris International (PM).
While Philip Morris International (PM) does face declining demand in Western Europe, which accounted for a little less than 50% of its operating income, the company could benefit from growth in emerging markets such as China or India as well as from strategic acquisitions. The company’s low penetration in the Chinese market, which represents one third of the worldwide demand for tobacco products, could present an attractive opportunity. PMI has reached an agreement with the China National Tobacco Company (CNTC) for the licensed production of Marlboro China and the establishment of an international equity joint venture outside of China. In August 2008 production of Marlboro began under license in two factories. The joint venture has successfully launched three Chinese heritage brands in six international markets. Check my analysis of the stock.
Coca Cola (KO) has operated in China since 1979 and was a major sponsor of the recent summer Olympic Games held in Beijing. The company is planning to triple the size of its sales in China over the next decade, and double the size of its bottling plants in the country. China is the third largest country for Coca Cola by revenues, and it’s also a big part of the company’s expected growth in sales over the next decade. Coca Cola is already the largest soft drinks brand in China and its volumes are twice the size of rival PepsiCo (PEP). The potential of the Chinese market is immense – last year there was an average per capita annual consumption of 28 Coke products in China, which was much lower than the 199 Coke products in per capita consumption in Brazil (source). Check my analysis of the stock.
Wal-Mart (WMT) currently has 267 locations in China, operating under Wal-Mart or Trust Mart’s names. The company had 3615 international locations at the end of 2008. There is still room for growth in Chinese operations, fueled by the increase in number of middle-class families in the country. For Wal-Mart, China represents the biggest frontier since it conquered America. China's voracious consumers are pushing retail sales to a 15 percent annual growth rate; that market will hit $860 billion by 2009, according to Bain & Co. (source). Check my analysis of the stock.
McDonald’s (MCD) currently owns over 2000 stores in China. The company has an ambitious plan to expand operations by developing 500 new locations in 3 years. McDonald’s opened 146 restaurants in 2008 and earlier this year expected to open 175 restaurants in 2009. The company has been able to increase sales volumes by expanding its menu of items, offering convenient store hours and opening drive-thrus in the process. Restaurants with drive-thrus are more likely to achieve higher sales and satisfy the demands of the increasingly mobile society in China. Expanding store hours and adding breakfast items to the menu is another opportunity for internal growth at Mcdonald’s Chine operations. Check my analysis of the stock.
McDonald’s (MCD), Wal-Mart (WMT) and Coca-Cola (KO) have each raised dividends for more than 25 years in row. Expanding their operations in China would be the cornerstone that would provide the necessary earnings growth for these dividend aristocrats to be able to raise distributions for the next two decades.
Full Disclosure: Long MCD, PM, WMT, KO
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Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB), together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and marketing of health and hygiene products worldwide. Every day, 1.3 billion people - nearly a quarter of the world's population - trust K-C brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds No. 1 or No. 2 share positions in more than 80 countries. This dividend aristocrat has boosted distributions for 38 years in a row. The most recent increase was in February 2010, when the company boosted distributions by 10% to 66 cents/share.
This dividend stock has delivered an average annual total return of 2.80% over the past decade.
Earnings per share have grown at an average pace of 3.40% annually. The company has also has repurchased 3% of its outstanding stock annually on average since 2001. For FY 2010, analysts expect the company to earn $4.95/share, which is higher than 2009’s EPS of $4.52. For FY 2011 analysts expect Kimberly-Clark to earn $5.36/share. As with other consumer products companies, the growth is likely to come from developing and emerging markets, rather than developed markets. Developed markets could benefit from cost cutting and efficiency profits, which would decrease the total price of doing business. Commodity prices could be detrimental to total costs at the company, as is the competitive nature of developed markets in which Kimberly-Clark does business.
The annual dividend payment per share has increased by an average of 9.30% annually, which is much higher than the growth in earnings. A 9% growth in dividends translates into the payment doubling every almost eight years. Kimberly-Clark has managed to double its distributions almost every eight years on average since 1986.
The return on equity has fluctuated between a low of 25.70% in 2006 and a high of 39.4% in 2009. Over the past few years it has remained above 30%, which is impressive.
The dividend payout ratio has been on the rise over the past decade, increasing from a low of 32.30% in 2000 to a high of 60% in 2006. Currently it is at 53%. The increase is mostly due to the faster rate of increase in dividends, whereas earnings growth has been somewhat sluggish. A lower payout is always a plus, since it leaves room for consistent dividend growth minimizing the impact of short-term fluctuations in earnings.
Currently Kimberly-Clark (KMB) is attractively valued at 13.30 times earnings, has an adequately covered dividend payment and yields 4%. Despite the fact that the company has grown slowly over the past decade, it could easily catch up over the next few years, which would make it a worthwhile investment. Add in the consistency of dividend increases and the stock buybacks, and you have a shareholder friendly management which is something hard to find these days.
Full Disclosure: Long KMB
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Dividend Investing is more than just selecting stocks that pay dividends. Successful dividend investing is about selecting stocks with strong fundamentals, which not only generate enough cash to reinvest in the growth of the business, but also generate excess cash to pay a rising payment over time. On his 2009 letter to shareholders, Warren Buffett mentioned that ” the best businesses by far for owners continue to be those that have high returns on capital and that require little incremental investment to grow”. Most dividend growth stocks have exactly the same characteristics.
The stocks which raised distributions last week include:
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) operates retail stores in various formats worldwide. The company raised its annual dividend by 11% to $1.21/share. Walmart is a dividend aristocrat which has increased its dividend every year since its first declared dividend of $0.05 per share in March 1974. This dividend aristocrat currently yields 2.20%. (analysis)
WGL Holdings, Inc. (WGL) engages in the delivery and sale of natural gas, and provides energy-related products and services in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. The company increased its quarterly dividend by 2.70% to 37.75 cents/share. This is the 34th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend champion. The stock currently yields 4.50%.
General Dynamics Corporation (GD) provides business aviation; combat vehicles, weapons systems, and munitions; shipbuilding design and construction; and information systems, technologies, and services worldwide. The company increased its quarterly dividend by 10.50% to 42 cents/share. This is the 17th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend achiever. The stock currently yields 2.30%.
Myers Industries, Inc. (MYE) manufactures and distributes polymer products for industrial, agricultural, automotive, commercial, and consumer markets, primarily in North America, Central America, and South America. The company increased its quarterly dividend by 8% to 6.5 cents/share. This dividend achiever has raised distributions for almost two decades. The stock yields 2.60%.
Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ) engages in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas. The company increased its quarterly dividend by 42.90% to 0.15 Canadian dollars/share. This international dividend achiever has boosted distributions since the year 2000. The stock currently yields only 0.80%.
QUALCOMM Incorporated (QCOM) engages in the development, design, manufacture, and marketing of digital wireless telecommunications products and services. The company boosted its payout by 12% to 19 cents/share and announced a new 3 billion dollar stock buyback
program. The company has raised distributions since 2003. The stock currently yields 2%.
American Greetings Corporation (AM), together with its subsidiaries, engages in the design, manufacture, and sale of greeting cards and other social expression products worldwide. The company boosted distributions by 17% to 14 cents/share. This is the first quarterly increase since 2008, despite the fact that the company’s annual dividend has been on the rise since 2006. The stock yields 3.20%.
I continue to be bullish on Wal-Mart (WMT), despite its low current yield. I believe that it is an excellent business which has a strong competitive advantage. I would be a buyer on any dips to $50.
Full disclosure: Long WMT
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After my post when to break your rules, some readers asked me whether it is reasonable to enter into a dividend investment, which has not raised dividends for more than 10 years in row.
The truth is that dividend investing should require intense scrutinizing of companies, in order to find the best stocks for ones portfolio. Otherwise, investors could end up getting whipsawed in and out of stocks, which would increase trading costs and would make them less likely to reach their goals. The reason behind requiring at least a decade of consistent dividend growth is to weed out all companies which are inconsistent in their dividend policies. Few companies which raise distributions for less than a decade end up on the dividend achievers list. In fact of the total universe of 10,000 US publicly traded stocks, less than 300 are included in the achievers list.
The best dividend stocks are typically characterized by having a strong durable competitive advantage, which allows them to grow earnings and increase dividends on an annual basis. A company which raised dividends for only a few years could have achieved that because it simply got lucky by being at the right place at the right economic cycle. Once the economic expansion or trend which boosted the company’s profitability ends, the company’s earnings would stop growing or worse could start declining. This is another major reason to avoid dividend growers with less than a decade of distribution raises.
That being said I do have several stocks on my watch list, which I would be happy to consider for inclusion in my dividend portfolio once the following characteristics are met:
1) Raising dividends for at least 10 consecutive years
2) Trading at no more than 20 times earnings
3) Having an adequately covered dividend payout ratio (or for REITs and MLPs a distribution payout ratio which is consistent with the ratio of the past few years)
4) Yielding at least 3%
The companies which one day could become dividend achievers that I am watching include:
Kellogg Company (K), together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and marketing of ready-to-eat cereal and convenience foods. Kellogg Company is a former dividend aristocrat, which has fought back to regain its status of a dividend growth stock since 2005. The stock currently yields 3.10%
General Mills (GIS) engages in the manufacture and marketing of branded consumer foods worldwide. General Mills has increased its quarterly dividend in each of the past six consecutive years. The stock currently yields 2.80%.
Microsoft (MSFT) provides software and hardware products and solutions worldwide. Although the company has raised its annual dividend since 2003, over the past quarters the dividend has been flat.
Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT), together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and markets packaged food products and grocery products worldwide. The company has consistently raised dividends since it went public in 2001. In early September 2009 the company announced that it has would leave its current dividend payment of $0.29/share unchanged for the fifth consecutive quarter.
Full Disclosure: None
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Any company could afford to boost distributions in a single year. Any type of business could also have a high yield, especially if it distributes all of its cash flows to shareholders. It takes a special kind of a business model to afford a proper balance between investing back into the business and distributing excess profits to shareholders. It is even more exciting when those distributions have been increased regularly for over ten consecutive years. I have highlighted six dividend stocks each of which has consistently raised distributions for over two decades.
Altria Group, Inc. (MO), through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, wine, and other tobacco products in the United States and internationally. The company’s board of directors raised its quarterly dividend by 2.90% to 35 cents/share. This is the 43rd consecutive dividend increase for Altria Group. The only reason why the company is not on the dividend aristocrat list is because its dividend payment is lower due to the spin-off of Phillip Morris International (PM) in 2008 and Kraft Foods (KFT) in 2007. The company does have a policy to return approximately 75% of earnings to shareholders in the form of cash distributions. Stock currently yields 7%. (analysis)
Kimberly-Clark Corporation, (KMB) together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and marketing of various health care products worldwide. The company’s board of directors raised distributions by 10% to 66 cents/share. This is the 38th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend aristocrat. The stock yields 4.40%. (analysis)
The Chubb Corporation (CB), through its subsidiaries, provides property and casualty insurance to businesses and individuals. The company raised its quarterly dividend by 5.7% to 37 cents/share. This was the 45th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend aristocrat. The stock currently yields 2.90%. (analysis)
CenturyTel, Inc. (CTL), together with its subsidiaries, operates as an integrated communications company. The company raised its quarterly distributions by 3.60% to 72.50 cents/share. This increase would represent the 37th consecutive year where this dividend aristocrat has boosted annual distributions to shareholders. The stock currently yields 8.50%.
Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc. (PNY), an energy services company, distributes natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and power generation customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The company boosted distributions by 3.70% to 28 cent/share, marking the 32nd consecutive annual dividend increase. This high yield dividend aristocrat yields 4.30%.
Donaldson Company, Inc. (DCI), together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of filtration systems and replacement parts worldwide. The company’s board of directors raised distributions by 4% to 12cents/share marking the 24th consecutive year of dividend increases. This dividend achiever currently yields 1.20%.
I view Kimberly-Clark (KMB) and Chubb (CB) as attractively valued stocks. I plan adding to my position in Chubb (CB) this month. Piedmont Natural Gas Company (PNY) looks like an interesting company for further research. Altria (MO) and CenturyLink (CTL) are two high yielding dividend growth stocks, which also spot high dividend payout ratios. I would choose tobacco over telecom however, because once you are addicted to it is difficult to stop using the product. With telecom you could easily cancel your telephone and get a cell phone or simply use Skype instead. Donaldson (DCI) does seem like a company that could be included in the dividend aristocrat list over the next one or two years. The problem is the low current yield, the anemic dividend growth rate and the high price/earnings multiple of 27.
Full Disclosure: Long CB, KMB, MO and PM
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Colgate-Palmolive Company (CL), together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and markets consumer products worldwide. It operates in two segments, Oral, Personal, and Home Care; and Pet Nutrition. The company recently increased its quarterly dividend by 20.40% to 53 cents/share. This is the forty-seventh consecutive dividend increase for Colgate-Palmolive, which is a dividend champion.
Over the past decade this dividend stock has returned 4.30% per annum.
Earnings per share have increased by 11.10% on average since 2000. Since 2000 the number of shares outstanding has decreased from 625 million to 525 million, or an average decrease of 1.90% annually. Analysts estimate that EPS would grow by 9.80% to $4.80 in FY 2010. FY 2011 EPS are expected to increase by 11.40% from there to $5.35.
Sales outside North America accounted for two-thirds of the company’srevenues. The company’s strong competitive advantages in the oral healthcare field plus the low capital requirements have enabled it to generate high returns on capital.
Returns on Equity have been truly phenomenal, having never fallen below 80% since 2000.
Annual dividends have increased by 11.80% on average over the past decade, which is slightly higher than the growth in earnings.
A 12 % growth in dividends translates into the dividend payment doubling every six years on average. If we look at historical data, going as far back as 1976, Colgate Palmolive has actually managed to double its dividend payment every eight and a half years on average.
The dividend payout ratio has consistently remained below 50%, with the exception of a brief spike to 50.80% in 2006. A lower payout is always a plus, since it leaves room for consistent dividend growth minimizing the impact of short-term fluctuations in earnings.
The company trades at a P/E of 18.80 times earnings and has an adequately covered dividend payment. The current yield of 2.60% is below my 3% entry threshold. If we look at the yield from the past decade however, CL has yielded more than 3% only during the lows in early 2009. Because of this I initiated a position in Colgate recently. I would look forward to add to this position on dips below $71, which would be my ideal entry price.
Full Disclosure: Long CLRelevant Articles:- Twenty Dividend Increases in the news - Where are the original Dividend Aristocrats now? - Best Dividends Stocks for the Long Run - Unilever (UL) Dividend Stock Analysis [more]