20 Bold Companies Raising Dividends Right Into the Recession

Pool Corp. (NASDAQ: POOL) announced on April 23 that its board had approved a 5% hike on the quarterly cash dividend to $0.58 per share. Pool is the largest wholesale distributor of swimming pool and related products. This still only represents a 1% dividend yield, as the stock was recently just trading 3% or so under its 52-week high. It is also up about 250% in the past five years, and it is about 1,500% or so higher since the 2009 selling zenith of the Great Recession.

Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) was among the first of the defensive companies to warn that it was facing disruptions in China that would hurt profits, but on April 14 the company increased its quarterly dividend to $0.7907 per common share. The consumer products giant announced at the time that it was a 6% payout increase and, more importantly, it represented the 64th consecutive year that it has hiked its dividend. The company also has paid a dividend for 130 years straight, since it was incorporated in 1890, and it now has a 2.8% dividend yield.

Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) announced that its board of directors approved a 5% payout hike in its quarterly payout, from $0.62 to $0.65 per common share. The payout increase was slated for quarterly dividends payable after March 26, but on April 21 the company confirmed that dividend payment would be at the higher $0.65 per share. The market was such that it could have dialed down the dividend hike or said it wanted to be prudent with all capital spending. Whichever date an investor chooses to use, even around March 10, it was becoming rather clear to large companies that an instant recession was happening. Qualcomm has spent billions returning capital to its shareholders over time, and the new yield at the current stock price is 3.3%.

Raytheon Technologies Corp. (NYSE: RTX) announced on April 27 that it was declaring a $0.475 dividend on its common stock. After adjusting for the 2.33 factor in the post-merger situation with United Technologies, this was confirmed as an effective dividend hike after a call into the company. Raytheon’s dividend yield is now 2.8%, based on the current share price. Since its dividend hike was announced, the company subsequently has said that it was suspending share buybacks as cash flows were needed to pay for the dividends.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) announced on April 20 that it was raising its dividend by eight cents to an annualized $2.56 per common share. The electric and gas utility player claims to serve more than 9 million customers and shows that it is committed to dividend growth. To prove it, that made 19 consecutive annual dividend hikes. The company now offers new investors a 4.4% dividend yield, and shares are still down about 21% from its highs, with a $61 billion market cap.

Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: TRV) announced earnings of $2.33 net per share for its first quarter on April 21. Along with other key items was the announcement that Travelers was raising its dividend payout by 4% to $0.85 per share per quarter. Its prior payout was $0.82, and its new dividend yield based on the current share price is almost 3.6%. The insurance and financial services giant, which most investors forget is a member of the Dow, mentioned that it has made 16 consecutive years of dividend increases, as a reflection of confidence in its business model. The stock looked overvalued ahead of the recession, but now it may be a discounted value stock with a solid dividend.

Watsco Inc. (NYSE: WSO) had announced its intent to increase its quarterly dividend to $1.775 per quarter, an 11% increase. While the announcement was made in better times, its board voted to proceed with the dividend hike on April 1, at a time when it could have just as easily said, “the economy has forced us to reconsider our hike” and not faced shareholder scrutiny. Still, Watsco has paid a dividend for 46 straight years, even if it did need to lower its payout a few years back. The company distributes air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, and now it has almost a 4.4% dividend yield.

Xilinx Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) announced on April 22, along with earnings that were affected by the coronavirus, that its quarterly cash dividend was being raised by 2.7% to $0.38 per common share. It also indicated that this reflects the company’s commitment to growing the dividend. Xilinx already had been lagging its peer chip stocks ahead of the recession. Its current dividend yield is 1.75%, based on the current share prices.

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