LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) has slipped 101 points to 6,294 today following downbeat economic news from Europe suggesting that we could see shrinkage of 0.3% in the first quarter. There are also fears that the U.S. stimulus package could be coming to an end.
What's the best way to deal with volatile times? Investing in companies that provide steady dividend income is one way. Here are three that have raised their payments this week.
InterContinental Hotels (LSE:IHG)
InterContinental Hotels Group lifted its full-year dividend by 16% on Tuesday to $0.64 per share. On the current share price of 1,922 pence, that's a yield of a little more than 2%. Revenue for the year came in 4% ahead at $1.8 billion, with adjusted earnings per share up 9% to $1.41.
The latest dividend does not provide a particularly high yield, but InterContinental has a record of keeping its payouts well covered and was able to continue them through the recession. In addition, the share price has put on about 35% over the past 12 months.
BHP Billiton (LSE:BHP) (NYSE:BBL)
On Wednesday, BHP Billiton released half-year results and raised its interim dividend by 4% to $0.57 per share from $0.55 last year. That came despite revenue falling $5 billion to $32 billion, with underlying operating profit down $6 billion to $10 billion -- but it was in a year of low commodities prices.
The share price has dropped from Tuesday's close of 2,236 pence to 2,106 pence today for a fall of 3.6%. Forecasts for the year to June 2013 indicate a fall in EPS of 22%, but a recovery is predicted for the following year, and we should see dividends continue upwards.
Final results from Rexam, released on Wednesday, allowed the company to lift its full-year dividend by 6% to 15.2 pence per share. That was more than twice covered by EPS and represents a yield of 3% on the current price of 505 pence. The consumer packaging company was forced to slash its dividend in 2009 when earnings slumped, but since then it has been steadily raising its dividend year on year.
Forecasts suggest two further years of both earnings and dividend growth, with 2013 figures suggesting a yield of 3.7%, rising to 4% for 2014 estimates.
Dividend rises like these three are always welcome, and companies that manage steady payouts form the cornerstones of many a portfolio -- whether investing for income or growth, good old cash is always welcome. And that's why I recommend the brand-new Fool report "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013," in which our top analysts identify a share that they believe will provide handsome dividend income for years to come. But it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.