Last week, Memorial Day meant one less trading day than usual. Coincidentally, my research suggests that one less company raised its dividend last week -- eight companies in all, down from nine during the preceding week.
That's not to say there weren't notable companies delivering dividend boosts. Let's have a look at the highlight reel.
Arguably the most prominent stock in the bunch was storied agricultural machinery producer Deere (NYSE: DE ) . Even though the company recently posted quarterly numbers that represented declines from the year-ago period -- particularly, revenue that dropped 9% to $9.9 billion and attributable net income that fell 10% to $981 million -- it's resolutely bullish on the future. According to Deere projections, the annual total for U.S. farm cash receipts will stay near the current historical high of about $400 billion for the remainder of 2014.
The company is putting its money where its mouth is with an 18% dividend hike. The new $0.60-per-share distribution will be paid on Aug.1 to shareholders of record as of June 30.
That 18% raise was quite nice, but it didn't come close to trumping Lowe's (NYSE: LOW ) fat dividend raise of almost 28%. The home improvement retailer had a strong 2013 and reported an encouraging 16% year-on-year improvement in net profit for its first quarter. This is a particularly good result given the awful weather during those months that slammed the building industry (and the economy at large).
Lowe's new dividend amounts to $0.23 per share, which is to be dispensed on Aug. 6 to holders of record as of July 23. There's almost certainly more where that came from -- the company has paid a dividend every quarter since going public more than 50 years ago.
In the financial sector, north-of-the-border lender Bank of Montreal (NYSE: BMO ) enacted a modest $0.02 increase to its quarterly common stock payout, for a new total of $0.78 per share. This was announced concurrently with the bank's second-quarter results, which revealed that the company grew net income by 12% on a year-over-year basis, to $1.08 billion. Standouts for the period were the bank's wealth management division, which reported a 38% year-over-year rise in net income, and capital markets, which was up 17% from the second quarter of 2013. Bank of Montreal's just-declared payout will be dispensed on Aug. 26 to shareholders of record as of Aug. 1.
Rounding out last week's quarterly dividend hikes, Extra Space Storage (NYSE: EXR ) found plenty of extra space for a nearly 18% raise to $0.47 per share, payable on June 30 to holders of record as of June 13. And business software solutions provider Pegasystems (NASDAQ: PEGA ) doubled its payout from $0.015 to $0.03 per share. The new dividend will be paid on July 15 to those in possession of the stock as of July 1.
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