Investors look to the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) as the strongest blue-chip stocks the U.S. has to offer. One mark of distinction among the 30 stocks in the Dow is that every single one of them pays a dividend, and many have a long history of regular dividend-increases.
To help you discover some promising dividend-stock candidates, let's take a quick look at four companies that have raised their payouts so far in 2013.
Just two days ago, Boeing's stock went ex-dividend as the aerospace giant marked the first installment of its newly raised dividend. Back in December, the company said it would raise its dividend by 10% and reactivate its share buyback program. Even as trouble with Boeing's Dreamliner aircraft has made investors nervous, a second straight annual dividend increase following a long period of flat payouts in the aftermath of the financial crisis shows the company's commitment to shareholders.
The company that brought you the Post-it Note extended its annual dividend-increase streak to 55 years when it announced an 8% dividend increase earlier this month. Like Boeing, 3M intends to do share buybacks, although 3M's program is even more massive, covering as much as 10% of its outstanding stock. Until economic prospects around the world are more encouraging, industrial giants like 3M are more apt to return capital through dividends than to invest in risky new business ventures.
Pfizer investors can expect to receive a 9% higher dividend payment on March 5. The company declared the higher payout back in December. Given the company's loss of revenue over the past year owing to the expiration of patent protection on blockbuster drug Lipitor, a dividend increase may seem odd. But the company has done a good job of keeping earnings high despite the revenue drag, and it's looking to get investors used to payout hikes again after having to slash its dividend during the financial crisis.
Next up: Coca-Cola? (NYSE:KO)
Soft-drink giant Coke has a 50-year record of raising its dividend every year, and this is the time of year when it usually makes its move. Last year the company announced its increase about a week after its full-year earnings report, and even after somewhat lackluster earnings for 2012, Coca-Cola has more than enough leeway to give shareholders a nice raise this time around.
Watch for dividends
Over time, most Dow stocks have treated their shareholders well, and dividends have been a big part of their success. Be sure to watch dividend announcements to help you separate the best stocks from the rest.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends 3M and Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.