Dividend checks continue to get fatter in corporate America, as more companies jack up their distribution rates.
Readers of the Income Investor newsletter can certainly appreciate that kind of thinking. Let's take a closer look at some of the companies that inched their payouts higher these past few days.
We can start with General Electric (NYSE: GE ) .
The diversified conglomerate is boosting its quarterly dividend 12% to $0.19 a share. GE is also returning more money to its shareholders by expanding its share buyback authorizations by another $10 billion. There is presently less than $4.9 billion left to buy back from an earlier authorization.
GE disappointed investors when it dramatically slashed its rate in 2009, but it has now come through with five increases to take its quarterly disbursements from $0.10 a share to $0.19 a share. We're still far away from the $0.31-a-share rate that was cut in early 2009, but at least GE is moving in the right direction.
Ingersoll Rand (NYSE: IR ) is also on the move. The Irish refrigeration giant is jacking up its quarterly payouts by 31% to $0.21 a share. It's also spinning off its security business and initiating a $2 billion buyback.
J.B. Hunt Transport Services (NASDAQ: JBHT ) also keeps on trucking. The transporter is bumping its rate 7% higher to $0.15 a share. J.B. Hunt normally pays out this quarterly dividend in February, but like so many other companies lately it will accelerate the distribution to later this month to get in under the likely 2013 tax increases.
Finally, we have CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS ) prescribing fatter dividends. The drugstore chain and pharmacy benefit manager bumped its quarterly distributions 38% higher to $0.225 a share. Investors should be used to this by now: CVS Caremark has come through with increases in each of the past 10 years.
CVS Caremark's announcement on a day when it also issued robust guidance for 2013 is a welcome contrast to what's happening at rival Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD ) . Rite Aid hasn't cranked out a quarterly profit since the summer of 2007. Rite Aid also suspended its payouts in 2008.
Checks and balances
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