The Weekly Dividend & Buyback (BPT, SKT, MNRO, QCOM, PAYX, AMIN, TJX, HOTT, TM, ETR, GE, JPM, UFS)

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We often cover companies raising dividends and announcing new stock buyback plans.  We did see some dividend hikes this week, but there are also many unique dividend stories from this week which have flown under the radar.  This edition of The Weekly Dividend & Buyback does not have these companies in any particular order.  This weeks stocks are BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust (NYSE: BPT), Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. (NYSE: SKT), Monro Muffler Brake, Inc. (NASDAQ: MNRO), QUALCOMM Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM), Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ: PAYX), American International Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMIN), TJX Cos. Inc. (NYSE: TJX), Hot Topic Inc. (NASDAQ: HOTT), Toyota Motor Co. (NYSE: TM), Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), and Domtar Corporation (NYSE: UFS).

These are not all dividend hikes.  Some are speculation of higher payouts and some are explanations about changes in dividend rates.  This is a much more expanded week of dividend news compared to what would have been normally expected in a pre-earnings season week that was light on news.

BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust (NYSE: BPT) declared a $2.2668963 for Q1.  This may seem like a drop compared to what looked like a record level of $3.612 at its last distribution.  These payments are always different and sporadic based upon a myriad of factors from operations, to return of capital, to seasonality, and more.  Here was the last few dividends declared as an example: $1.73 Dividend; $1.65 Dividend; $0.992 Dividend; $1.637 Dividend; and $2.937 Dividend….

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. (NYSE: SKT) boosted its payment this week on an annual dividend to $1.55 per share from $1.53 per share basis.  That is above 3.5% now and we’d note that the Thomson Reuters estimates are much better than the trailing 12 months at $2.66 for December-2010 and $2.81 for December-2011.

Monro Muffler Brake, Inc. (NASDAQ: MNRO) declared a final $0.07 dividend but for the year ahead it has declared that it will begin paying a $0.09 dividend per quarter.

QUALCOMM Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) was a bit of a misnomer when it came to a raised dividend.  The $0.19 dividend declared was higher than a year ago.  The problem is that QUALCOMM already raised its dividend and upped its share buyback plan when its stock was in severe trouble as a stabilization factor.  Some aggressive reporting brought up the thought that was a raised dividend, which is not the company trying to pass of re-news.

Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ: PAYX) came up in a personal conversation this week as to why it did not raise its dividend.  It announced its same $0.31 per share payout.  The reason is simple.  The company is just coming off the worst employment cycle in a generation and consensus analyst targets from Thomson Reuters are May-2010 at $1.34 EPS and May-2011 at $1.43 EPS.  The dividend coverage ratio here is just still too close.  It raised the dividend a penny in 2008 but the big hike came in 2007 when the dividend went from $0.21 to $0.30.  While everyone likes to see dividend hikes, some patience is needed here before a hike should be demanded.  In fact, investors may feel lucky that it did not do the dividend cut seen elsewhere.