A dividend king is a company that has managed to reward shareholders with a dividend increase for at least 50 years in a row. This is no easy feat, as only 20 companies in the US have managed to achieve this regal status.
When I came up with the idea for the dividend king's list in 2010, there were only ten companies claiming this status. The prosperity of the 2010’s has led to an increase in the number of dividend kings. I have done some research on the dividend kings, as I like to look at historical data and play around in excel.
But history buffs like me have always wondered about the dividend kings of the olden days. I am always fascinated to learn about financial history.
After spending some time at a local library, I came up with a few books containing historical dividend records for the dividend achievers. The list of dividend achievers is not as comprehensive as the list of Dividend Champions, Contenders and Challengers. However, it is the best way to find information that is good enough.
The information covers the period of the 1990s and the early 2000s.
There was only one dividend king in 1994 – it was Winn Dixie with a 50 year record of annual dividend increases. The company remained the only dividend king in 1995, raising its record of annual dividend hikes to 51 years in a row.
By 1996, Winn Dixie had a 52 year record of annual dividend increases. However, there was a new arrival to the elite list of dividend kings – Ohio Casualty Corp. These two companies also stood out as the dividend achievers with the longest record of consecutive annual dividend increases at 53 and 51 years respectively in 1997. By 1998 those records were 54 and 52 years in a row for Winn Dixie and Ohio Casualty Corp. After reviewing the list of dividend champions, I could see three companies with a 46 year track record of annual dividend increases in 1998. This meant that they had 3 - 4 years before potentially joining the dividend kings list.
By 1999, Winn Dixie and Ohio Casualty Corp expanded their track record of annual dividend increases to 55 and 53 years in a row respectively. Aon Corp and Scana Corp had raised dividends for 47 years in a row by then, and were eager to join in three years.
In the year 2000, the only dividend king left was Ohio Casualty Corp, with 54 years of consecutive annual dividend increases. Winn Dixie failed to increase its dividend in 1999, and ultimately ended up cutting it in 2002. In 2005, Winn Dixie filed for bankruptcy protection.
However, in the year 2000 Ohio Casualty abruptly cut its dividend and then suspended it in 2001 until 2006. Therefore in late 2000 and the whole year 2001, there were no dividend kings out there. Ohio Casualty started paying a dividend again a few years later, but was acquired in 2007.
By 2002, the only dividend king was Aon Corp, with a 50 year record of annual dividend increases. That was a short-term move however, because in 2003 the company was dropped from the list and there were no dividend kings in the US.
The year 2004 marked a turning point in the history of the dividend kings list. That’s because there were a record number of new entrants, which incidentally also marked the highest number of dividend kings ever. The three dividend kings include Procter & Gamble (PG), American States Water (AWR) and Diebold (DBD). They had a 50 year record of annual dividend increases at the time. The first two of these companies are still members of the dividend kings list. They were the only dividend kings in 2005, only with a 51 year record of annual dividend increases.
In 2006, Dover (DOV) joined the list of dividend kings with its 50 year track record of regular annual dividend increases. Procter & Gamble (PG), American States Water (AWR) and Diebold (DBD), clocked 52 years in a row of dividend increases.
The 2007 list of dividend kings included the following companies:
American States Water Co (AWR) - 53 years
Diebold Inc. (DBD) – 53 years
Procter & Gamble Co (PG) – 53 years
Dover Corp. (DOV) – 51 years
Emerson Electric Co (EMR) – 50 years
Genuine Parts Co (GPC) – 50 years
Parker Hannifin Corp (PH) – 50 years
To see the evolution of the dividend kings list over the past decade, please check my comprehensive dividend kings list page.
Thank you for reading!