This Year’s 5 Best Performing S&P Dividend Aristocrats Stocks

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Clearly after years of underperformance, and the constant chatter from Wall Street talking heads that rates were going higher, investors have turned to the top yielding stocks for income and the hope of growth, and why not? Sure there may be one more interest rate increases this year, but when the Federal Reserve did raise rates in December yields plummeted.

In a research note from Jefferies, without much fanfare they posted the 10 top performing S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrat stocks. To make this exclusive club, companies must increase their annual dividend 25 or more consecutive years. To be the top performing means there could be continued upside.

Questar

Shares of this U.S. integrated natural gas company are up over 25% this year. Questar Corp. (NYSE: STR) distributes natural gas as a public utility in Utah, southwestern Wyoming and a small portion of southeastern Idaho, serving 990,381 sales and transportation customers. The company owns and operates distribution systems comprising 28,782 miles of street mains, service lines and interconnecting pipelines, as well as has long-term franchises granted by communities and counties in its service area. It also develops, produces and delivers natural gas from its properties located in the Rocky Mountain region.

The company recently approved a 5% increase in the quarterly common stock cash dividend to $0.22. The dividend, payable March 14, 2016, to shareholders of record on February 26, 2016, is a one-cent increase from the previous quarter and results in a new annualized dividend rate of $0.88 per share. This is the company’s 285th consecutive dividend. Questar has increased the dividend 44 times in the past 44 years.

Questar investors are paid a 3.55% dividend. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target for the stock is $22, but the stock has blown by that and closed Tuesday at $24.55.


Black Hills

Shares of Black Hills Corp. (NYSE: BKH) are up 20% this year. This Rapid City, South Dakota-based company is a growth-oriented, vertically integrated energy company with a mission of improving life with energy and a vision to be the energy partner of choice. It serves 1.2 million natural gas and electric utility customers in eight states. The company’s non-regulated businesses generate wholesale electricity and produce natural gas, oil and coal.

In January the company announced that its quarterly dividend was increased by 15 cents per common share, or 3.7%, to $0.42 per share, equivalent to an annual increase of six cents and a dividend rate of $1.68 per share. It was the 46th annual dividend increase.

Black Hills shareholders are paid a 3.03% dividend. The consensus price target is $59, and shares closed Tuesday at $55.38.