Last week we saw further market volatility as major indexes continued extending their losses for October, which could turn out to be the worst month for the markets since 1938. There was an announcement from S&P which decreased the expected dividend growth for 2008 to 1.20% and also provided a cautionary outlook for dividends and earnings in 2009.
Despite all the doom and gloom there were several notable dividend increases over the past week.
Microchip Technology (NASDAQ:MCHP), a leading provider of microcontroller and analog semiconductors, announced an increase in the dividend to 33.9 cents per share. Microchip initiated quarterly cash dividend payments in the third quarter of fiscal year 2003 and has increased the cash dividend by 9.4% from the dividend level one year ago. The stock currently yields a whooping 6.30%. I doubt that future dividend raises could increase at the same rate, given the high payout ratio, unless of course earnings could triple by the end of the next decade.
Aflac's (NYSE:AFL) announced that its Board has approved a 16.70% increase in its quarterly dividend from $0.24 to $0.28 per common share effective first quarter of 2009. Aflac is a dividend aristocrat which has increased its dividends for 26 consecutive years. The stock currently yields 2.60%.
Eaton Vance Corp. (NYSE:EV) announced that its Board has approved a 3% increase in its quarterly dividend from $0.15 to $0.155 per common share. The company is a member of the dividend achievers index having increased its dividends for over 2 decades. The stock currently yields 3.40%.
Goodrich Corporation (NYSE:GR)announced that its Board approved an 11% increase in its quarterly dividend from $0.225 to $0.25 per common share. Despite this raise and last years double digit dividend increase, the company only has two years of back to back dividend increases over the past decade. The stock currently yields 2.90%.
Airgas, Inc (ARG) announced that its Board approved an 33% increase in its quarterly dividend from $0.12 to $0.16 per common share. The company has paid dividends since 2003 and the new rate is over five times the quarterly dividend payments in 2003. The stock currently yields 1.60%.
As always, the dividend increases list led me to put AFL and EV on my list for further research.