Novartis (NYSE:NVS) is one of the globe's biggest drug companies. The company generates more than $58 billion in annual sales and is often included in dividend investors' portfolios.

Novartis has a solid track record of dividend increases over the past decade; however, investors are right to wonder whether patent expiration on its top-selling blockbuster drug Diovan may threaten Novartis' ability to boost dividends in the future.

In the following slideshow you'll learn whether I think Novartis' dividend is safe and see how Novartis' dividend matches up to peers GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), Novartis' partner in a new consumer goods joint ventures, and Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY), a company that competes with Novartis top selling MS drug Gilenya.