Many of the best dividend stocks in the market have impressive track records of growing their payouts over time. A select few have even gotten to the point at which investors can predict exactly when a company is most likely to announce their dividend increase for the year. For Aflac (NYSE:AFL), VF Corp. (NYSE:VFC), and Nike (NYSE:NKE), announcements are expected within the next month or so that should extend their streaks of dividend growth for another year.
Aflac gets quacking
Aflac has turned the business of specialty insurance into a highly profitable venture, creating profits on two continents and allowing shareholders to reap the rewards. The insurance company offers a wide variety of different insurance coverage to U.S. workers, mostly as supplemental policies through group health plans that give people the ability to go beyond traditional healthcare coverage to get additional insurance both for specific medical conditions as well as for types of expenses that regular health insurance typically won't cover. Aflac has an even bigger business in Japan, where it gets the majority of its premium revenue and profit.
Aflac has treated shareholders well over the years, with 34 straight years of rising payouts. With a 2.1% dividend yield, investors are hopeful that Aflac can do even better, and last year's 5% boost to its quarter payout came near the end of October. Favorable demographic trends and high demand for its innovative products should give Aflac the confidence it needs to follow through on a dividend increase.
Bucking the retail downturn
The retail industry has gone through tough times lately, but that hasn't slowed down VF Corp. and its business. VF is the company behind names like The North Face, Timberland, and SmartWool, and it has had to deal with massive changes in the way that people buy consumer goods. With VF's traditional distribution methods involving shopping malls starting to yield more extensively to online shopping, the clothing distributor has had to adapt and find ways to support its business. So far, though, VF has done a good job of doing exactly that, building out direct-to-consumer channels to cut out intermediaries and actually boost profits.
VF is no stranger to the dividend arena, with 44 straight years of rising payouts including the company's 14% boost late last year. VF currently has a 2.7% dividend yield, and investors should expect another raise alongside quarterly results when VF makes it typical announcement in late October.
Nike swooshes higher
Nike plays in some of the same industry space as VF, but its focus on athletic apparel is unparalleled in the industry. What Nike has struggled with lately is the need to fight against rising competition from abroad, as Adidas has picked up the pace and become a much more solid No. 2 player in the global athletic apparel and footwear industry. Nike isn't standing still, and its plan to fight back should help it preserve its leadership role in the space. In particular, a presence on a key e-commerce marketplace website and continued commitment to its direct-to-consumer retail channel should help Nike fight against some of the headwinds that players throughout the industry face.
Nike has a shorter track record of dividend growth at just 15 years, and its yield of just 1.4% leaves much to be desired for most income investors. However, Nike has worked hard to remedy the situation, with the company announcing a 12.5% dividend increase last year. That boost during 2016 came in mid-November, and a similar timeline this year should give investors plenty of time before year-end to see how Nike is faring against its competition.
Rising dividends are critical for investors looking for income from their portfolios. Nike, VF Corp., and Aflac are all solid companies, and income-seeking shareholders should be able to count on them to deliver higher payouts before 2017 ends.