Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ten Dividend Kings raising dividends for over 50 years

Many dividend investors focus on the dividend aristocrats, the dividend champions and the dividend achievers lists, as a starting point in their research. While most investors picture dividend stocks as slow growth and boring utility stocks, the three lists portray a different perspective. The dividend achievers list, which focuses on companies which have raised distributions for at least 10 consecutive years, consists of slightly less than 300 individual issues representing almost all industry groups out there. The dividend aristocrats list, which features companies which have boosted distributions for over a quarter of a century, is also sector-diversified. The dividend champions list also focuses on companies which have raised distributions for over a quarter of a century. I find the champions list more inclusive, whereas the aristocrats list has not included certain companies despite the fact that they have increased distributions for over 25 years in a row. Sometimes it is challenging to determine the actual record of dividend raises, especially when two companies merge.

I was amazed to find several companies on the dividend king list, which have raised distributions for over 50 consecutive years. A dividend king is a company that has increased dividends for at least 50 years in a row. The companies include:

Diebold (DBD) engages in the development, manufacture, sale, installation, and service of automated self-service transaction systems, electronic and physical security systems, and election systems and software worldwide. The company recently boosted its dividend for the 57th year in a row. Yield 3.70%.

American States Water Company (AWR), through its subsidiaries, provides water and electric utility services to residential and commercial customers in the United States. The company engages in the purchase, production, and distribution of water. The company has raised distributions for 55 years in a row. Yield 3.20%.

Dover Corporation (DOV), together with its subsidiaries, manufactures industrial products and components, as well as provides related services and consumables in the United States and internationally. Dover has raised its payout for 54 consecutive years. Yield 3.20%.(analysis)

Northwest Natural Gas Company (NWN), doing business as NW Natural, engages in the storage and distribution of natural gas in Oregon, Washington and California. The company operates in two segments, Local Gas Distribution and Gas Storage. This utility company has increased dividends for 54 years in a row. Yield 3.90%.

Genuine Parts Company (GPC) distributes automotive and industrial replacement parts, office products, and electrical/electronic materials in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It has four segments: Automotive, Industrial, Office Products, and Electrical/Electronic Materials. The company has consistently boosted dividends for 53 years in a row. Yield 4.20%.

The Procter & Gamble Company (PG) engages in the manufacture and sale of consumer goods worldwide. The company operates in three global business units (GBUs): Beauty, Health and Well-Being, and Household Care. The company has increased dividends for 53 years in a row. Yield 2.80%. (analysis)

Emerson Electric Co. (EMR), a diversified global technology company, engages in designing and supplying product technology, as well as delivering engineering services and solutions to various industrial, commercial, and consumer markets worldwide. Yield 2.90%. (analysis)

3M Company, (MMM) together with its subsidiaries, operates as a diversified technology company worldwide. It operates in six segments: Industrial and Transportation; Health Care; Safety, Security and Protection Services; Consumer and Office; Display and Graphics; and Electro and Communications. The company has raised distributions for 51 years in a row. Yield 2.70%.(analysis)

Integrys Energy Group, Inc. (TEG), through its subsidiaries, operates as a regulated electric and natural gas utility company in the United States and Canada. This utility company has increased dividends for 51 years in a row. Yield 6.60%.

Vectren Corporation (VVC) provides energy delivery services to residential, commercial, and industrial and other customers in Indiana and Ohio. This utility company has increased dividends for 50 years in a row. Yield 6.00%.

I did check with the Moody’s dividend achievers handbook and each company’s website in order to confirm whether the companies have actually raised distributions for 50 years in a row. I didn’t include Parker-Hannifin Corporation (PH), despite the fact that it was on the champions list, because it failed to increase dividends in 1991.

(Update in 2017: Note that Parker-Hannifin's track record is based upon dividend payments for its Fiscal Year rather than the Calendar Year. The fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Therefore, the FY 2015 dividend was $2.37/share ( one dividend payment of 48 cents/share plus three dividend payments of 63 cents/share).

The FY 2016 dividend was $2.52/share ( four dividend payments of 63 cents/share)

The FY 2017 dividend was $2.58/share ( two dividend payments of 66 cents/share plus two dividend payments of 63 cents/share)

Because of the use of Fiscal Years, rather than Calendar Years, I excluded Parker - Hannifin from the first list of dividend kings that I compiled in 2010.)

Just because a company has raised distributions for 50 years does not necessarily mean that it would continue raising them for over a decade. Back in early 2000’s Winn-Dixie (WINN) had the longest record of dividend increases, after boosting its payout for over 56 years. The company was losing market share however and was heavily leveraged, which ultimately lead to its filing for chapter 11 protection and wiping out all shareholders equity in the process.

The positive factor in the story is that there is a chance that some of the best dividend stocks of today which are included in the dividend achievers or the dividend aristocrats lists could end up raising distributions for 40 more years. Even if a company drops from one of those elite dividend indexes, it typically does so either because it is acquired by a competitor at a handsome premium or because it simply freezes distributions. Kellogg’s (K) is a nice example of a company which had raised distributions for over 44 years, before freezing distributions in 2001. The company then started raising distributions again in 2005 and has been boosting its payout ever since.

Full Disclosure: Long EMR, MMM, PG,

Relevant Articles:

- Utility dividends for current income
- Dividends Stocks versus Fixed Income
- Estimating future Dividend Growth
- Where are the original Dividend Aristocrats now?

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