Friday, March 13, 2009

* The Few, The Proud, The Dividend Raisers!

This last week was similar to each of the two prior weeks in that we saw another large bank slash its dividend by more than 80%. Last Friday, Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) cut its dividend by 85% to $0.05. The company said it would help them retain an additional $5 billion in common equity each year.

During the week several big name companies declared dividends, including:
  • Safeway (SWY) $0.0828/share - yield 1.87%
  • General Mills (GIS) $0.43/share - yield 3.46%
  • Microsoft (MSFT) $0.13/share - yield 3.43% - (Analysis)
  • Heinz (HNZ) $0.415/share - yield 5.40%
  • Target (TGT) $0.16/share - yielding 2.35% - (Analysis)
  • Kraft (KFT) $0.29/share - yield 5.25% - (Analysis)
It is great when companies, like those above, follow through and pay their regular dividends at the appointed time. But it is even more important for companies to follow through and raise their dividend at the appropriate time. Unfortunately, fewer companies are increasing their dividends. This week there were only two to note:

Piedmont Natural Gas Company Inc. (PNY) is an energy services company that distributes natural gas to 1,016,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. On March 6th, the company declared a 3.8% increase in its quarterly dividend of $0.27/share. The dividend is payable April 15, 2009, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 25, 2009. The stock now yields 4.85%. This is the 31st consecutive year PNY has raised its dividend. The company is a dividend Achiever and a dividend Champion.

Warwick Valley Telephone Company (WWVY) provides telephone, Internet and video services to customers in the towns of Warwick, Goshen and Wallkill, New York and West Milford and Vernon townships, New Jersey. On March 10th, the company increased its quarterly cash dividend by 10% to $0.22/share up from $0.20/share. The dividend will be paid on March 31, 2009 to shareholders of record as of March 20, 2009. Wisner H. Buckbee, Chairman of the Board, said "This dividend increase demonstrates the Board's confidence in the continued strong performance of WVT's business, our cash generation capabilities, and our firm commitment to our shareholders." The stock now yields 9.78%.

For more companies around the world with a long string of consecutive dividend increases, see Dividends Value's Stock Ideas page.

Full Disclosure: No position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Tags: [GIS] [HNZ] [KFT] [MSFT] [PNY] [SWY] [TGT] [WWVY]