13 Fresh Dividend Hikes and Stock Buybacks Too Big to Ignore

Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) approved a new $5 billion stock buyback plan on Valentine’s Day. This is considered an add-on plan and helped drive shares up another 3% or so, and the $5 billion compares to a $71.6 billion market cap. The company did not signal at all that this plan would prevent it from further seeking to build and diversify its product portfolio, which means it can still be a biotech acquirer. Celgene has over $12 billion worth of cash and investments on the books, but it also has close to $16 billion in long-term debt.

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) managed to score multiple analyst target hikes before and after earnings, and its shares are now effectively at highs not seen since the 2000 dot-com bubble. Cisco showed how tax reform and repatriation would benefit the company, with a $67 billion capital return coming to shareholders. Cisco raised its quarterly payout to $0.33 from $0.29, and it added $25 billion to the buyback plan for a total remaining authorization of about $31 billion for buybacks alone.

Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) is managing to show improvements again in its move away from the core Coca-Cola sugar-water soft drinks. While a dividend raise to $0.39 from $0.37 per quarter might not sound off the charts for a company doing so much business overseas, this was Coca-Cola’s 56th straight year to hike its dividend. Coca-Cola’s new dividend yield will be about 3.46%, still blowing away the 10-year and 30-year Treasury yields.

Lear Corp. (NYSE: LEA) must expect strong trends in automotive seating and systems ahead. The company authorized an additional increase in its stock repurchase plan up to $1.5 billion, versus a $12.6 billion market cap. Lear only yielded 1% or so for investors, but it did raise its dividend by 40% to a $0.70 quarterly payout that will now take the yield up to almost 1.5%.

Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd. (NASDAQ: MLCO) is back in its Macau and Asian growth, seeing its net income rise to $0.17 per American depositary share (ADS) from $0.09 a year ago, and the pressure from China seems to have dwindled. Melco Resorts lifted its quarterly dividend by 50%, up to $0.135 from $0.09 per ADS, with a new yield of almost 2%.

Phillips 66 Co. (NYSE: PSX) made a significant buyback of $3.3 billion or so of its common stock this past week, but it was from Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway rather than from open market transactions. Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway still remain a top holder of shares, and Buffett said this stake sale was to get it under the 10% SEC ownership hurdle for disclosure and regulatory purposes. Phillips 66 has a $46.6 billion market cap.

Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE: QSR), the parent of Burger King and Tim Hortons, wants to be a serious dividend player. It just more than doubled its U.S. payout to $0.45 per share from $0.21. The company also forecast that it is now targeting that as remaining at a $1.80 per share payout for 2018, so its $59 share price now generates a 3.05% yield.

Wendy’s Co. (NYSE: WEN) had a strong week and closed up over 4% after earnings on Friday at $16.39. The company raised its dividend 21%, up to $0.085 from $0.07 per share per quarter. The company also added on a new $175 million stock buyback plan, versus a current market cap of $3.9 billion. Its new yield is almost 2.1%.

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