By Neal Goodwin, Guest Editor
Here's a look at three stocks that you can bet on increasing their dividend payouts in the near future. The companies have excellent records of both consistently increasing their dividends and for being on time and precise with their payments. These are some of the safer dividend stocks in the business, so if you like dividends, take a long hard look at these names. These are strong dividend queens prepping for another dividend increase.
Avon Products (NYSE:AVP) has increased its dividends for 22 straight years. AVP pays a solid dividend of $0.92 per year, and with a stock price of $29.91, it is yielding at 3.1%, consistent with its attempt to make shareholders happy by repaying them on a quarterly basis. AVP is a leading global beauty company and the largest direct seller of beauty and related products, and I really like the company's prospects in the short run. With a strong presence in high-growth emerging markets, future upside potential is great.
Results from AVP's multi-year restructuring program, created to accelerate investments to targeted growth opportunities and reduce costs by increasing efficiency, has been very successful so far, and is expected to deliver annualized savings of more than $430 million when fully implemented in 2012.
It recently announced Q1 earnings, and results were very impressive. First quarter earnings were $0.37 cents per share, beating analyst's estimates of $0.31 cents per share, and beating 2010's Q1 earnings of $0.33 cents per share. In addition, of 14 analysts covering AVP from zacks.com, seven have revised their estimates upwards for the second quarter. This means good days are likely ahead for this stock, and that is without considering the likely jump in dividend rewarded by AVP.
In Q1, AVP increased sales by 8%, meaning it has some extra capital in which to increase dividends if it so chooses. Dividend payout ratio is at 50%, which is in the middle of a healthy payout range, allowing for an increase if the company chooses. While prospects look promising for the long run potential of AVP, its presence in the personal beauty products industry makes any long term predictions difficult, given the number of competitors. For the short term I give AVP a buy rating. Enjoy the consistent increase in dividends while you hold this stock.
Republic Services (NYSE:RSG) doesn’t operate in the sexiest industry. However, from the company's perspective, it may be in one of the most stable ones: The waste management industry, specializing in non-hazardous solid waste collection, transfer, and disposal, is a very lucrative business. In fact, it is a $50 billion industry in the United States, and RSG takes up just under 20% of that industry. On top of that, RSG operates as a monopoly in nearly 30% of its markets.
The beauty of the non-hazardous solid-waste industry is that barriers to entry are extraordinary due to the difficulty in generating a place to dump the waste. A company would need an exceptional amount of capital and time (up to seven years to obtain necessary permits) if it wanted to make a serious run at succeeding in this industry. For that reason, RSG foresees an impressive revenue stream for many years down the road. As a result of constant revenue, and minimal marginal costs, it is able to pay healthy dividends. RSG is currently paying a dividend of $0.80 per share of shares currently selling at $33.01, resulting in a 2.5% yield. Its current payout ratio is 47%. That yield is likely to increase later this year as RSG continues to see the benefits of its acquisition of Allied Waste, an acquisition including disposable assets that represent a long term strategic benefit that will only increase over time as RSG enhances its competitive advantage.
I really like the short and long term prospects of RSG, and suggest buying this stock. Its current industry provides a strong and predictable cash flow, and it is one of the top performers within the non-hazardous solid-waste industry, suggesting it will have a stronghold for a while. All signs point towards stability and increased dividends in the upcoming quarters, which is good news for everyone except RSG's competitors.
Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) has successfully increased its dividend payments for over 25 straight years. For an older company, NSC has seen great returns over the past year, increasing in price by 30%. NSC is based out of Norfolk, Virginia and controls a major freight railroad, Norfolk Southern Railway Company.
NSC has been the model of consistency, as it has essentially seen constant increases in stock prices (currently listed at $72.83) since the business was started in 1980, and it has an annual average earnings growth of 11.6% over the last 10 years. Current payout ratio is only 39%, making this stock the most likely to see a large increase in dividends on our list. Current dividends pay stock holders $1.60 annually, which is good for a yield of 2.30%.
I really like the consistency of NSC, and for that reason I like this stock enough to suggest a buy rating. In its 30+ year history, NSC has only had two large declines in stock price: One following the financial crisis of 2008, in which freight usage was cut way down, and the other in 1999, following UPS announcing it would use freight trucks instead of trains, making investors worry immensely that the era of trains was coming to a close.
NSC has since recovered from both of these drops, and continues to turn out impressive results. NSC recently sold $400 million worth of 100-year bonds at a 6% interest rate. Whether it actually believes it will be around for that long or not, this gesture give the impression that it believes NSC will be around for a very long time. If history is indicative of anything, however long NSC is around for, it will continue to grow in stock price, and simultaneously will continue to increase dividends. In my opinion, NSC is a great long term investment that should provide considerable security, while also paying a good and continuously increasing dividend. NSC is my favorite stock out of these three dividend queens.