Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



3 Dividend Growth Companies You May Be Missing

Watch stocks you care about

The single, easiest way to keep track of all the stocks that matter...

Your own personalized stock watchlist!

It's a 100% FREE Motley Fool service...

Click Here Now

Companies like Ford (NYSE: F  ) , Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX  ) and Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM  ) are not usually included among the most popular dividend growth names since they don´t have a long and time-proven track records of consistent dividend increases over the years. However, investing is about the windshield, not the rearview mirror, and these companies have the fundamental strength to continue delivering big dividend increases for years to come. 

Ford is accelerating
Ford has made an impressive turnaround over the last years, the company has materially improved the quality of its vehicles with better designs and greater fuel efficiency, and customers are responding with growing demand for the company´s products.

In addition to its long standing leadership position in light trucks, Ford has also achieved market share gains cars during the last quarters. Sales of F-Series trucks have increased by 19.8% in the first ten months of the year and models like Escape, Fusion and Explorer are also remarkably strong with sales growth of 13.9%, 19.9% and 22.1% respectively.

China is looking like a particularly promising opportunity for the iconic American automaker. Ford had a late start in the Asian giant, but it's recovering the lost ground with rapidly growing revenues: sales in the country increased by a whopping 52% in the first ten months of 2013 to a total of 741,818 vehicles for Ford and its joint ventures.

Ford reinstated its dividends in 2012 and doubled its payments to $0.10 per share this year. The auto industry is notoriously cyclical and competitive, but Ford has come a long way in streamlining its balance sheet and gaining competitive strength. The company yields a 2.4% in dividends and the payout ratio is comfortably low in the area of 19% of earnings.

Caffeinated growth
Starbucks is firing on all cylinders, the company delivered a 13% increase in revenue during the last quarter; this was fueled by the opening of 588 new stores and a healthy increase of 7% in global comparable store sales. The company is aggressively expanding its store count, but new openings are not hurting sales at existing locations, demand remains healthy and Starbucks is doing the smart thing by actively betting on growth.

Profit margins are on the rise too, consolidated operating margin expanded 220 basis points to 17.6% during the quarter, and the company generated a big increase of 37% in earnings per share to $0.63. Management is expecting to open approximately 1,500 new stores in fiscal 2014 which in combination with comparable store sales growth in the mid single digits should produce revenue growth above 10% in the next year according to guidance.

Acquisitions like Teavana, La Boulange and Evolution Fresh offer exciting opportunities for growth by leveraging the company´s differentiated brand and customer experience into different product categories like specialized tea, pastry and premium juice.

Starbucks increased its dividends by a solid 24% in the last quarter, even if the dividend yield of 1.3% doesn´t sound too exciting, the company´s growth prospects and moderate payout ratio below 40% of earnings leave plenty of room for growing distributions in the coming years.

Fresh and healthy dividends
Whole Foods has been one of the most remarkable success stories in the grocery sector over the last several years; the company is a major beneficiary of the natural and organic foods movement, and a talented management team has translated growing demand into a 20.5% annual increase in earnings per share over the last five years.

However, the company disappointed investors with lower than expected sales growth and reduced guidance during the last quarter. Sales for the third quarter increased by 10.8% on a comparative 12-week basis, comparable-store sales growth was 5.8%, a slowdown from previous quarters and below analysts' expectations.

Whole Foods is offering more discounts, matching competitor's prices, and adding lower-cost brands to its products assortment to expand into new markets and attract lower-income consumers. Accelerating store growth seems to be generating some cannibalization too.

But the company still owns a leading brand in the organic foods business and a reputation for quality. Management is well known for its culture of innovation and efficiency and Whole Foods has profit margins of 6.7% at the operating level, well above the industry average of 3% according to data from Morningstar.

Even if growth slows down a bit as the business matures and competition increases, this high quality organics grocery still has unquestionable financial strength and plenty of room for expansion due to its relatively small store base of 367 stores.

The company announced a 20% dividend increase to $0.12 per share for the last quarter. The dividend yield of 0.8% is still quite modest, but the payout ratio in the area of 25% allows for tasty dividend increases over the coming years.

Bottom line
When selecting dividend-growth stocks, focusing solely on past performance can sometimes mean missing some truly interesting opportunities. Companies like Ford, Starbucks and Whole Foods are not among the most popular dividend-growth names, but they could easily be considered as such a few years down the road. Their strong prospects going forward make them worth a closer look by any Foolish investor looking to break out and invest in tomorrow's rock-solid dividend names. 

More rock-solid dividend picks from the Motley Fool
Dividend stocks can make you rich. It's as simple as that. While they don't garner the notoriety of high-flying growth stocks, they're also less likely to crash and burn. And over the long term, the compounding effect of the quarterly payouts, as well as their growth, adds up faster than most investors imagine. With this in mind, our analysts sat down to identify the absolute best of the best when it comes to rock-solid dividend stocks, drawing up a list in this free report of nine that fit the bill. To discover the identities of these companies before the rest of the market catches on, you can download this valuable free report by simply clicking here now.

Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2013, at 8:40 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    Good article. People sometimes miss the fruit that is hanging just a little bit higher on the tree.

    Whole Foods overall is a good company to work for and invest in, even w/o the dividend.

Add your comment.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2723453, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/26/2016 1:23:49 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 2 days ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,261.45 -131.01 -0.71%
S&P 500 2,164.69 -12.49 -0.57%
NASD 5,305.75 -33.78 -0.63%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

9/23/2016 4:01 PM
F $12.17 Down -0.01 -0.08%
Ford CAPS Rating: ****
SBUX $54.43 Up +0.04 +0.07%
Starbucks CAPS Rating: ****
WFM $28.52 Down -0.15 -0.52%
Whole Foods Market CAPS Rating: ****