Dividend stocks are, in many ways, the glue that holds the foundation of your investment portfolio together. Aside from the fact that dividend stocks have outperformed non-dividend-payers over the long term, dividend stocks offer investors three key advantages.
To begin with, dividend stocks can help ease investors' worries by hedging their losses during inevitable stock market corrections. According to data from Yardeni Research, there have been 35 stock market corrections of 10% or more in the S&P 500 since 1950, meaning one tends to occur about every two years. Dividends can help mitigate investors' losses when the markets get choppy.
Secondly, dividend payments are an indicator of a company's health. Companies don't tend to share their profits with investors if the management team doesn't believe the business will remain profitable and growing.
And finally, dividend stocks allow investors to act like top-tier money-managers by setting up dividend reinvestment plans, or DRIPs. A DRIP allows investors to compound their wealth by reinvesting their payouts into more shares of common stock. This creates a virtuous cycle of growing payouts and thus larger holdings, which leads to supercharged wealth-creation.
The biggest challenge for income-seeking investors is finding companies that have growing dividends. A rapidly growing dividend can often signify a sustainable and highly profitable business model.
Here are seven dividends that have doubled (or more) in a relatively short period of time.
The original biotech blue-chip stock, Amgen (AMGN 0.94%), is perhaps one of the finest examples of dividend growth throughout the entire stock market. After paying out just $0.47 per quarter in 2013, the company is now divvying out $1.15 per share in 2017 -- good enough for a 145% increase!
Amgen's secret to success is its broad product portfolio, its healthy pipeline, and the exceptional pricing power bestowed upon drugmakers in the United States. Amgen's star product remains anti-inflammatory drug Enbrel, whose price increases more than offset unit declines and sent total sales up to nearly $6 billion last year. However, multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis and next-generation LDL-cholesterol-lowering injection Repatha both have their sights set on blockbuster annual sales totals ($1 billion-plus).
Amgen's growing portfolio, combined with its prudent cost controls -- it laid off approximately 20% of its workforce beginning in 2014 to divert expenditures toward launching around a half-dozen new products -- have allowed its dividend growth to shine.
2. Bank of America
It has taken years for Bank of America (BAC 0.72%) to right the ship since the Great Recession, but the company appears to have put the storm firmly in the rear-view mirror. Since mid-2014, Bank of America's quarterly payout has jumped from $0.01 per share to $0.075.
Topping the list of factors working in B of A's favor are the three federal funds target rate increases from the Federal Reserve since December 2015. Higher interest rates mean higher yields on B of A's variable loans, and thus a higher net interest margin. According to a January 2017 presentation from the company, a 100-basis-point increase in short- and long-term interest rates would add $3.4 billion in net interest income, a good portion of which would flow to its bottom line.
At the same time, Bank of America is benefiting from lower costs as it cuts its physical branch count in response to higher mobile banking usage. The prospect of banking deregulation from the Trump administration only reinforces the thesis that bank dividends may have further room to expand.
As recently as early 2013, digital communications giant Qualcomm (QCOM 4.17%) was paying out $0.25 per quarter. Today, Qualcomm's dividend has more than doubled to $0.53 per quarter -- and its bountiful wireless connectivity patents are to thank.
The reason Qualcomm is able to crank out juicy profits rests with the portfolio of patents that it licenses out to device makers. In return, these wireless-device makers pay a percentage of the selling device to Qualcomm. Even though the company supplies a majority of the baseband processors that allow devices to connect wirelessly, Qualcomm's patent portfolio provides the lion's share of its profit and margin.
Looking ahead, Qualcomm should be able to capitalize on steady growth in the global smartphone market, as well as its ongoing acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, which is still awaiting regulatory approval. The NXP acquisition will make Qualcomm a major player in the automotive chip market, which should help complement the growth in its wireless IP portfolio.
Another dividend stock putting the pedal to the metal is Ford (F 3.89%), which has doubled its payout from $0.10 a quarter to $0.20 between 2013 and 2017.
Globally, China has been a major influencer of Ford's profit and dividend growth. China is already the world's largest auto market, and given its burgeoning middle class, it's only bound to grow even larger. This makes Ford's record vehicle sales of 1.27 million in 2016, representing 14% year-over-year growth, seem all the more important. The more market share Ford can claim in China, the more stable its growth prospects should become.
Domestically, Ford continues to see benefits from lower pump prices and America's fascination with its F-Series pickups, which are still the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. by a mile. Lower fuel costs have hurt small sedan sales, but Ford will gladly make that trade-off, because it has meant more robust truck and SUV sales, which have higher margins to begin with. Ford's dividend may have higher gears left to hit.
5. Home Depot
Do-it-yourself home improvement retailer Home Depot (HD 2.75%) is another company that has delivered some impressive dividend growth. In 2013, Home Depot's stipend amounted to $0.39 a quarter. Today, shareholders are taking home $0.89 per quarter, which is good enough for a 128% increase.
Home Depot's growth likely owes to its success in attracting customers from both the commercial and residential side of the business. During times of robust economic growth, Home Depot leans on commercial construction to drive growth. When commercial housing growth slows, Home Depot can turn its attention to residential remodels. It's a formula that has obviously worked well.
Also working in Home Depot's favor have been its investments in its staff, point-of-sale technology, and e-commerce website. Focusing on improving the education of its staff, along with making the checkout process quicker and more convenient, has been critical in keeping Home Depot one step ahead of rival Lowe's.
6. Las Vegas Sands
Sometimes dividend stocks don't have to be a gamble, as casino and resort operator Las Vegas Sands (LVS 5.86%) has shown. After parsing out $0.35 per quarter in 2013, Las Vegas Sands' payout is now $0.73 per quarter. That's a 109% increase.
Las Vegas Sands is benefiting from the expansion of its casino and resort properties located domestically and in Macao. In Las Vegas, tight controls and an improvement in all business segments led to a 14.4% increase in fourth-quarter EBITDA, while the opening of the Parisian Macao overseas helped push visitation growth up 23% and also led to higher hotel occupancy rates. Las Vegas Sands' approach of catering to a slightly more mainstream clientele has certainly helped it grow over the years.
It is worth noting that Las Vegas Sands is facing some tougher times in Macao with its existing properties. A slowdown in China's GDP growth has hampered its highly profitable casino table game operations. However, with additional expansions on tap in Macao and Las Vegas, including at its existing properties, and a penchant for keeping costs under control, this dividend appears safe for the time being.
7. Phillips 66
Finally, energy logistics company Phillips 66 (PSX -0.23%) is pumping out more than just refined products. Since the summer of 2013, Phillips 66 has increased its dividend from $0.3125 per quarter to $0.63.
The reason Phillips 66 has been so successful is its logistics diversity. In early 2016, Phillips benefited from falling crude oil prices, which boosted its refining margins and increased demand for gasoline and diesel fuel. This year, with crude prices having rebounded and refining margins falling, Phillips has turned to growth from its midstream pipelines. Over the past year, the company increased the storage capacity at its Beaumont terminal, financed its 25% stake in the Bakken Pipeline project, and completed the construction of its LPG export terminal in Texas, which is capable of exporting 4.4 million barrels per month.
The company has also nearly completed an important chemical expansion joint-venture with Chevron (CVX 1.64%), which is expected to begin boosting results in 2018. Needless to say, additional dividend growth could be in the cards.