Last week S&P 500 had its largest weekly increase since 1974. Most investors are wondering if the bottom is in after the broad US index average bounced off its 11 year lows it had reached a week earlier. It was a week where Bloomberg reported stock dividends disappearing at the fastest rate since 1950s. According to the article the recession and global credit crunch are reducing profits for the fifth straight quarter and leaving less spare cash for quarterly payments to shareholders.
Not all companies are conserving cash however; there were several dividend increases which reiterate my opinion that the dividend cuts might not spread to the non-financial sector.
South Jersey Industries (SJI), an energy services holding company for utility and non-regulated businesses, announced that its Board has approved a 10% increase in its quarterly dividend to $0.2975 per common share. An increase of this size represents a strong statement by SJI's board and management regarding the current health and future prospects of the company. South Jersey Industries is a dividend achiever which has increased its dividends for over ten years. The stock currently yields 3.10%.
United Bankshares, Inc. (UBSI), announced that its Board has approved a 3% increase in its quarterly dividend $0.29 per common share. United Bankshares is a dividend champion which has increased its dividends for over thirty five years. The stock currently yields 3.40%.
Hormel Foods Corporation (HRL), which is engaged in the production and marketing of meat and food products, announced that its Board has approved an increase in its quarterly dividend from $0.74 to $0.76 per common share. Hormel Foods Corporation is a dividend champion which has increased its dividends for over forty-three years. The stock currently yields 2.80%.
Becton, Dickinson and Company (BDX), a medical technology company, announced that its Board has approved a 15.80% increase in its quarterly dividend from $0.285 to $0.33 per common share. Becton, Dickinson and Company is a dividend aristocrat which has increased its dividends for over thirty-six years. The stock currently yields 2.10%.
McCormick & Company (MKC),a diversified global technology company, announced that its Board has approved a 9% increase in its quarterly dividend from $0.22 to $0.24 per common share. McCormick & Company is a dividend achiever which has increased its dividends for over fifteen consecutive years. The stock currently yields 3.20%.
The York Water Company's (YORW), which engages in impounding, purifying, and distributing water, announced that its Board has approved a 4.10% increase in its quarterly dividend from $0.121 to $0.126 per common share. The York Water Company has increased its dividends for over twelve years. The company is the oldest investor owned utility in the USA, having paid dividends every year since 1816. The stock currently yields 4.50%.
Of all these stocks MKC, BDX, SJI, HRL look promising enough to add them to my watchlist for further analysis.
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