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2011 Dividend Increases Nearly Doubled and 7 Dividend Stocks That Led the Way

Dividends4Life

Dividends4Life

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Have you noticed that investing in dividend growth stocks has gone main stream? What a change from a couple of years ago when dividends were considered "stodgy, for old people, yawn, boring!" With its new found attention, dividend growth stocks aren't disappointing their newly acquired fans. When all is said and the last word is written, 2011 was a great year for dividends!

Last Wednesday, S&P Indices announced that dividend increases reached $50.2 billion in 2011, nearly double the $26.5 billion in dividend increases recorded in 2010.

According to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Indices, actual cash payments increased over 16% and the forward indicated dividend rate was up 18%. Payout rates, which historically average 52%, remain near their lows at under 30%; yields remain relatively high compared to alternative investments.

So who were the best performers in 2011? Below is a list of some of the dividend stocks with at least a 20% dividend increase in 2011:

Walgreen Company (WAG)

Increase: 28.6% | Yield:

Walgreen Co. is the largest U.S. retail drug chain in terms of revenues, this company operates more than 8,000 drug stores throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. WAG is a member of the S&P 500 and a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers™ Index and a Dividend Champion. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1933 and has increased its dividend payments for 37 consecutive years.

Lowe's Companies (LOW)

Increase: 27.3% | Yield: 2.8%

Lowe's Companies Inc. sells retail building materials and supplies, lumber, hardware and appliances through more than 1,700 stores in the U.S. and Canada. LOW is a member of the S&P 500 and a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers™ Index and a Dividend Champion. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1961 and has increased its dividend payments for 49 consecutive years.

W.W. Grainger Inc. (GWW)

Increase: 22.2% | Yield: 1.4%

Grainger Inc. is the largest global distributor of industrial and commercial supplies, such as hand tools, electric motors, light bulbs and janitorial items. GWW is a member of the S&P 500 and a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers™ Index and a Dividend Champion. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1965 and has increased its dividend payments for 40 consecutive years.

Tennant Company (TNC)

Increase: 21.4% | Yield: 1.7%

Tennant Company designs, manufactures, and markets cleaning solutions worldwide. TNC is and a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers™ Index and a Dividend Champion. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1933 and has increased its dividend payments for 40 consecutive years.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)

Increase: 20.7% | Yield: 2.5%

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is the largest retailer in North America. Wal-Mart operates a chain of discount department stores, wholesale clubs, and combination discount stores and supermarkets. WMT is a member of the S&P 500 and a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers™ Index and a Dividend Champion. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1973 and has increased its dividend payments for 37 consecutive years.

Stanley Black & Decker (SWK)

Increase: 20.6% | Yield: 2.3%

Stanley Black & Decker Inc. is a diversified global provider of hand tools, power tools, and related accessories and systems that resulted from the March 2010 merger of StanleyWorks and Black & Decker. SWK is a member of the S&P 500 and a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers™ Index and a Dividend Champion. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1877 and has increased its dividend payments for 44 consecutive years.

Target Corp. (TGT)

Increase: 20.0% | Yield: 2.5%

Target Corp. operates about 1,500 Target and 250 SuperTarget general merchandise stores across the U.S. TGT is a member of the S&P 500 and a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers™ Index and a Dividend Champion.The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1965 and has increased its dividend payments for 44 consecutive years.

The good news for 2012 is that Silverblatt expects 2012 to set a new record for dividend payments, with the indicated rate surpassing the old record set in June of 2008. The one piece of bad news is that yields decreased to 2.80% at the end of the fourth quarter, compared to 2.99% at the end of the third quarter. The quarterly decline was due mostly to an 11% price increase.

Full Disclosure: Long WMT. See a list of all my dividend growth holdings here.

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Dividends4Life
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http://www.dividend-growth-stocks.com/

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