Checking for dividend increases is one of the tools I use to monitor my portfolio holdings and companies I am interested in. I have found that the rate of growth in company dividends shows the near term management sentiment in profitability for the enterprise. If management expects business as usual, they are much more likely to stay the course and maintain the rate of dividend increases from prior years. However, if tougher business environment is expected on the horizon, wise management will curtail dividend growth or might halt further increases in distributions.
In the past week, there were several companies that announced increases in dividends, which I am interested in. In addition, a company I have been monitoring initiated a dividend for the first time.
QUALCOMM Incorporated (QCOM) designs, develops, manufactures, and markets digital communications products and services in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States. The company operates through three segments: Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT), Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL), and Qualcomm Strategic Initiatives (QSI). The company raised its quarterly dividend by 14.30% to 48 cents/share. This marked the 13th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend achiever. The ten year dividend growth rate is 21.70%/year. This is typical for companies in the initial stage of dividend growth. Currently, Qualcomm is selling for 13.80 times forward earnings and yields 2.80%. While I have been familiar with the company since the days of the dot-com boom, I would add it on my list for further more detailed research.
Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (EPD) provides midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs), crude oil, petrochemicals, and refined products in the United States and internationally. This master limited partnership increased its quarterly distribution to 37.50 cents/unit. This represents an increase of 5.60% over the distribution paid at the same time last year. This master limited partnership has managed to increase distributions to unitholders for 16 years in a row. In the past decade, distributions have increased at a rate of 6.60%/year. I first initiated a position in 2010, but sold in 2013 to pursue Kinder Morgan and ONEOK Partners ( and later ONEOK). I would be interested in initiating a position back in Enterprise Products Partners at current yields above 5%. The current yield is close to 4.50% now. I should probably post an updated analysis of the partnership as well.
Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. (PAA), through with its subsidiaries, engages in the transportation, storage, terminalling, and marketing of crude oil, natural gas liquids (NGL), natural gas, and refined products in the United States and Canada. The company operates in three segments: Transportation, Facilities, and Supply and Logistics. Plains All American Pipeline raised its quarterly distributions to 68.50 cents/unit, which represents an increase of 8.70% over the distribution paid at the same time last year. This master limited partnership has raised distributions to unitholders for 14 years in a row. In the past decade, distributions have increased at a rate of 8.30%/year. Currently, this MLP yields 5.50%. I will add it on my list for further research. As a side note, the General Partner Plains GP Holdings, L.P. (PAGP) raised distributions as well. However, unlike other General Partners this one has a lower yield at 3.20%
Genesis Energy, L.P. (GEL) operates in the midstream segment of the oil and gas industry in the Gulf Coast region of the United States. This MLP raised its quarterly distribution to cents/unit, which represents an increase of 10.90% over the distribution paid at the same time last year. This master limited partnership has raised distributions to unitholders for 12 years in a row. In the past decade, distributions have increased at a rate of 14%/year. Currently, this MLP yields 5.50%. I will add it on my list for further research.
Airgas, Inc. (ARG) supplies industrial, medical and specialty gases, and hard goods. The company operates through two segments, Distribution and All Other Operations. Airgas increased its quarterly dividend by % to cents/share. This marked the 13th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend achiever. The ten year dividend growth rate is 28.40%/year, which again is typical for companies in the initial phase of dividend growth. The shares are currently overvalued at 22 times forward earnings and yield 2.25%. I would add the company to my list for further research. On a side note, I own shares of competitor Air Products & Chemicals (APD) so I am familiar with the industry. However, the industry as a whole does not offer an attractive entry price today.
Constellation Brands, Inc. (STZ), together with its subsidiaries, produces, imports, and markets beer, wine, and spirits in the United States, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and Italy. The company initiated its first dividend payment in 45 years of 31 cents/share for it’s a shares (STZ) and 28 cents/share for its B shares (STZB). The company is overvalued at 25.10 times forward earnings and yields 1%. The forward earnings of $4.85 for 2015 are a nice increase from the $1.19/share earned in 2005. I would add the company on my list for further research. However, I prefer Diageo (DEO), since it offers a better value today.
In general, I am looking for quality companies that are attractively valued, which have a track record of raising dividends, and which could grow earnings in the future. It is helpful to own a company with a decent initial yield, which has sustainable dividend and can grow that dividend in lockstep with growth in earnings.
Full Disclosure: Long KMI, APD, OKE, DEO
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