With the earnings season in full swing, numerous companies have stood out and seen their stocks spike to all-time highs. However, three industry leaders have stuck out even more after reporting great quarterly results and then making the very bullish move of increasing their dividends. Let's take a look at these three giants and decide if one of the stocks belongs in your portfolio.
The personal products giant
Kimberly Clark (NYSE: KMB ) is one of the largest personal-products companies in the world with sales of over $21 billion in fiscal 2013. Its brands include Kleenex, Cottonelle, Depends, Huggies, Kotex, Scott, and numerous others. The company's products are available in more than 175 countries and are said to serve over a billion people each day.
In its latest release on Jan. 24, Kimberly Clark reported that its earnings per share increased by 5.1% and its revenue remained flat. The highlight of the report came when the company announced that its dividend would rise; this 2%-4% increase will take place in April. This raise will keep Kimberly Clark's yield above 3% for the year, barring any steep price appreciation. This will be the 79th straight year that the company has paid a quarterly dividend and the 42nd consecutive year that the dividend has been increased; these are both very impressive streaks, and as a result Kimberly Clark has one of the best reputations out of all of the dividend payers in the market.
The baking soda king
Church & Dwight (NYSE: CHD ) manufactures and markets personal care, household, and specialty products worldwide. Its most popular brands include Arm & Hammer, Trojan, First Response, Nair, OxiClean, and Orajel. Church & Dwight is also the leading producer of baking soda in the United States, which is sold in retail packaging and also paired with other specialty chemicals for industrial, institutional, medical, and food applications.
In Church & Dwight's earnings report on Feb. 3, it reported that its earnings per share increased by 14% and its revenue increased by 1.6%, but news of a dividend increase stole the show. The quarterly dividend was raised by 11% from $0.28 to $0.31, resulting in an annual payment of $1.24; this gives the stock a yield of about 1.9% at current levels. The upcoming payment will mark the 452nd consecutive quarter in which the company has paid a dividend, and this also marks the 18th consecutive year that the dividend has increased. Few companies have attained such dividend-paying streaks, which puts Church & Dwight in an elite class.
America runs on it
Dunkin' Brands (NASDAQ: DNKN ) owns, operates, and franchises quick-service restaurants under the Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins brands. Dunkin' Donuts is one of the world's largest coffee and baked-goods restaurants and Baskin-Robbins is the world's largest specialty ice cream chain. The company is nearly 100% franchised, which gives it the competitive advantage of being asset-light.
In Dunkin's earnings release on Feb. 6, the company reported that its earnings per share increased by 26.5% and its revenue grew by 13.3%. These strong results were followed with the news that the Board of Directors had approved an increase in the company's dividend, effective immediately. The quarterly dividend increased by 21.1% from $0.19 to $0.23, which gives Dunkin' a yield of roughly 1.9% on an annualized basis. This is the second time the company has raised its dividend since it went public in 2012 and I believe this is just the start to a very impressive streak, like those of Kimberly Clark and Church & Dwight. The rate at which Dunkin' Brands plans to expand and the fact that it is nearly 100% franchised mean that it is well-positioned to generate immense free cash flow, which it will likely return to shareholders.
The Foolish bottom line
Kimberly Clark, Church & Dwight, and Dunkin' Brands are three of the largest companies in their respective industries and all have recently reported great quarters. In addition to solid earnings, each company announced a dividend increase, which shows strong dedication to shareholders. Although its dividend is in its infancy in comparison with the others, Dunkin's dividend is my favorite of the group because it is paired with a high-growth stock. With this said, I believe that all three of these giants will outperform the overall market in 2014 and I think at least one of them should be part of your portfolio.
Looking for other great dividend investments? We've got nine of them
One of the dirty secrets that few finance professionals will openly admit is the fact that dividend stocks as a group handily outperform their non-dividend paying brethren. The reasons for this are too numerous to list here, but you can rest assured that it’s true. However, knowing this is only half the battle. The other half is identifying which dividend stocks in particular are the best. With this in mind, our top analysts put together a free list of nine high-yielding stocks that should be in every income investor’s portfolio. To learn the identity of these stocks instantly and for free, all you have to do is click here now.