Some companies stick to the policy of increasing shareholder value by paying consistently higher cash dividends year after year. Below are five companies that have produced especially strong growth in dividends over the past five years. Assuming that these companies will continue to raise dividends at rates similar to those achieved over the past five years, they will likely double their payouts in the period between three and five years.
Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) is a global $27.2 billion aerospace, defense, and security company. The company has an attractive dividend yield of 4.8% on a payout ratio of 42%. Lockheed Martin has been growing its dividend at the average annual rate of 22% over the past five years. Continuing to raise its dividend payouts at similar rates, the company is likely to double its payout within three and half years. Lockheed Martin is the U.S. government's largest defense contractor by revenues, with 82% of the company's revenues derived from the government. Budgetary austerity in the U.S. has adversely impacted the company's revenues. Despite the strength in the aeronautics division, Lockheed Martin's sales are projected to be down modestly or, at best, flat over the next two years. The estimated paltry growth in the company's bottom line will be driven by cost cutting and share repurchase programs. In the first quarter of 2012, Joel Greenblatt sold out his stake in the company, following George Soros and Ray Dalio who sold their shares last year.
International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) is a $229 billion IT giant producing computer hardware and software and providing infrastructure and consulting services to customers around the globe. The company is currently featuring a very small yield of 1.7%; however, IBM has been growing its payout at an average rate of 21.7% a year over the past five years. Continuing to boost its dividends at this rate, IBM is on track to double its payout in 3.6 years. The company's payout ratio is at a low 22%. The IT giant reported flat sales in the latest quarter, with its hardware and financing segments posting declines year over year. The company features strong balance sheet, abundant cash, stable revenue streams, and a capacity to capture market share due to its proactive role in new tech trends. The company's shares constitute one of the larger stakes in Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway portfolio.
Safeway Inc. (NYSE:SWY) is a $5 billion food and drug retailer. The company pays a dividend yield of 3.7% on a payout ratio of 34%. It has been increasing dividends by an average rate of 20.3% a year over the past five years. Assuming that this retailer will continue to grow dividends at similar rates in the future, the company will likely double its dividend within 3.8 years. Notwithstanding sluggish revenues due to food and fuel cost increases, Safeway is forecast to grow its EPS this year by nearly 12%. The company has attractive valuations. Its trailing and forward P/Es are well below the broad market and industry ratios. Guru investor Ray Dalio is bullish about the stock.
Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX) is a $12.5 billion company and one of the world's largest producers of hard drives. The company has a competitive dividend yield of 3.5% on a payout ratio of only 18%. It has been growing dividends at an average rate of 17.8% a year over the past five years. If the company's dividend growth continues to average the same in the coming period, Seagate Technology will double its dividend payout in about 4.3 years. The company has seen its revenue almost double in the latest quarter and earnings surge due to a recovery in the market for hard drives. The company's financials have also greatly benefited from the Thai monsoon flooding last October that destroyed Seagate competitor's manufacturing facilities. As a result, since then there has been a global shortage of hard drives. The company is popular with David Einhorn, Leon Cooperman, and Jean-Marie Eveillard (see David Einhorn's three new stock picks).
Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) is a $10.3 billion fashion retailer with operations in the United States. The company pays a dividend yield of 2.2% on a dividend payout ratio of 30%. Nordstrom has increased its dividend by an average rate of 16.4% a year over the past five years. Assuming that the company continues to hike its dividend payout at a similar rate in the future, Nordstrom will double its payout in about 4.6 years. The company has seen double-digit revenue growth from the year earlier levels for the past five quarters. The company's bottom line has increased modestly, with earnings rising in the past three quarters. Analysts expect that the company will see a rebound in EPS growth in the coming period. EPS is projected to rise on average by 11.5% a year for the next five years. Nordstrom seems to be fairly priced, in line with the S&P500's P/E and almost on par with the company's 5-year historical P/E average. John W. Rogers of Ariel Investments continues to hold a stake in the company.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.