Investors seeking yields higher than those offered on bank savings and fixed-income investments such as bonds have gravitated towards stocks of stable dividend payers as a source of investment income. However, some investors buying dividend equities for income tend to focus on the dividend yield alone and often pursue the companies that pay the highest yield. In some instances, this could present a danger as some high-yielding companies could be value traps, exactly the opposite of stable, growing, and cash generating.
Some suggest that, instead of focusing primarily on the yield, investors should follow high dividend growth as an indicator of the company's health and sustainability of dividend payouts. Moreover, research shows that even among dividend-paying stocks, there are those that fare better than others. Stocks that boast the highest dividend growth tend to outperform the stocks of companies with low pace of dividend increases. Below is a review of five dividend-paying companies that feature strong growth in dividend payouts.
click to enlarge images
Western Union Co. (NYSE:WU) is a $10.4 billion global money transfer company. It has grown dividends at an average annual rate of 98% over the past five years. Recently, it increased its quarterly dividend payout by 25%, continuing the streak of robust dividend hikes. Western Union yields 2.4% on a low payout ratio of about 21%. Its closest peer MoneyGram International (NASDAQ:MGI) does not pay any dividends. Western Union shares are trading at $16.8 or 8.6 times forward earnings. The shares are down 9.4% year-to-date. Renowned fund manager Leon Cooperman is bullish about the stock.
Lorillard (NYSE:LO) markets tobacco products, including the popular brands Newport, Maverick, and Kent. It has about $16.4 billion in market capitalization. The cigarettes maker has increased dividends by an average rate of 47.2% per year over the past three years. Earlier this year, the company boosted its quarterly dividend payment by 19.2% to $1.55 a share. Lorillard pays a dividend yield of 5.1% on a payout ratio of 77%. Its peers Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM), Altria (NYSE:MO), and Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI) pay dividend yields of 3.6%, 5.1%, and 5.6%, respectively. The company's stock is trading at $124 or 12.9 times its forward earnings. The shares are up about 9.5% since the beginning of the year. First Eagle Investment Management and guru fund manager Ken Heebner are fans of the stock.
Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:ABX) is a gold mining company with some $39.4 billion in market capitalization. It has been raising dividends at an average rate of 19% a year over the past five years. Recently, the company hiked its quarterly dividend by a third to $0.20 a share. Barrick Gold pays a dividend yield of 2.0% on a payout ratio of 18%. Its competitors AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU) and Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) pay dividend yields of 1.1% and 2.9%, respectively. The company trades at $39.3 a share or 6.8 times its forward earnings. The stock is down about 17% since the beginning of the year. Daniel Loeb boosted his small stake in the company by nearly 50% in the first quarter of 2012.
Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) is engaged in the exploration and production of energy including oil, natural gas, and geothermal energy. The company has a market capitalization of $193.3 billion. Chevron has boosted its dividend by 9.1% a year over the past five years. Last month, the company hiked its quarterly dividend by 11.1% to $0.90 a share. The oil giant pays a dividend yield of 3.7% on a payout ratio of 26%. Its rivals ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) pay yields of 5.2% and 2.9%, respectively. The company's stock is trading at $97.8 a share or 7.3 times its forward earnings. The shares are down some 11.4% year-to-date. Chevron was one of the new buys in George Soros' portfolio in the first quarter of 2012 (check out Soros Fund Management's portfolio).
Tupperware Brands Corp. (NYSE:TUP) is a $3 billion packaging, containers, and beauty products maker. The company has increased dividends by an average annual rate of 7.4% a year over the past five years. This year, it bolstered its quarterly dividend payment by a much higher 20% to $0.36 a share. Tupperware pays a dividend yield of 2.8% on a payout ratio of 39%. Its peers Avon Products (NYSE:AVP) and Newell Rubbermaid (NYSE:NWL) pay dividend yields of 5.5% and 2.1%, respectively. The company's stock is trading at $53.8 or 9.6 times forward earnings. The shares are down almost 3% from the beginning of the year. Guru fund manager Joel Greenblatt reported a minor stake in the company in the first quarter of 2012.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.