A number of publicly traded companies have, understandably, suspended their dividends during the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to conserve now-scarce cash resources.
However, many of their peers are not only keeping their shareholder payouts alive, they're lifting them a little higher. Here are three notable companies that will soon put a little more money in investors' pockets.
Illinois Tool Works
Taking the prize for Least Surprising Dividend Raise out of our trio is Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW). The industrials sector mainstay has lifted its quarterly payout by nearly 7% to $1.14 per share.
That's par for the course, as the sturdy manufacturing components maker is a Dividend Aristocrat -- one of only a handful of S&P 500 index component stocks that has raised its dividend at least once annually for a minimum of 25 years running (its streak is now only a few years shy of turning 60).
Somewhat uncomfortably, of Illinois Tool Works' seven core business areas, the largest -- automotive -- is struggling mightily during the coronavirus pandemic (there are far fewer places for people to drive to, after all). So, as in the company's Q2, revenue and profitability will continue to take big hits, as will free cash flow (FCF).
Still, the company anticipates booking $1.8 billion or so in FCF for this fiscal year; by comparison, its spent just over $1.3 billion on dividends in 2019. So even with the challenges to its business and that constricted money pipeline, is should have enough cash for the dividend after the raise.
Illinois Tool Works' new distribution will be paid on Oct. 14 to stockholders of record as of Sept. 30. At the most recent closing share price, it would yield just under 2.4%.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is coming through the pandemic relatively well. Despite this, it's being cautious about its dividend. A frequent raiser around this time every year, the telecom powerhouse is adding a touch more than $0.01 to its quarterly dividend, for a total of just under $0.63 per share.
In its most recently reported quarter, the company saw a 5% year-over-year drop in revenue -- fairly modest given the far steeper declines of other dividend stock favorites (like, for example, Illinois Tool Works). A coronavirus-inspired drop in advertising at Verizon's media offerings was a culprit. Yet low churn helped lift the company's bottom line, and especially its FCF (which more than doubled to over $10 billion).
Verizon is obviously battening down the hatches to shelter against more potential bad weather in its business. But those recent increases indicate that management is doing a good job steering the ship through the tumult. That latest FCF tally was almost four times what the company paid in dividends, so this payout looks as safe as any out there.
The enhanced distribution will be paid on Nov. 2 to shareholders of record as of Oct. 9. It yields a theoretical 4.2%.
Tobacco king Altria (NYSE:MO) is also doing a good job braving the coronavirus storm.
We all have much more time to sit inside and indulge in habits like smoking; this is one reason Altria only saw a 4% slide in revenue in its Q2, and managed to book a marginal increase in non-GAAP (adjusted) net profit. One of the market's more reliable dividend payers and raisers, it celebrated by bumping its quarterly payout 2% higher to $0.86 per share.
Altria is the picture that should appear in the dictionary when you look up "cash cow." Despite the many restrictions on smoking throughout the world, it is a hard habit for many to break. Consequently, Altria has a very strong customer base, and, thanks to a core product that doesn't require much innovation, relatively modest costs.
So its famously mighty cash flow should continue to gush, despite the ever-hovering threat of the coronavirus. Noted as a particularly high-yield dividend stock, there's every reason to think Altria will continue to keep increasing its payout.
Said payout is to be dispensed on Oct. 9 to investors of record as of Sept. 15. It would yield 7.9% on last Friday's closing stock price.