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Instant Analysis: Coca-Cola Raises Its Dividend by 6%

By Eric Volkman – Feb 19, 2016 at 10:45AM

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The beverage behemoth will pay $0.35 per share.

What happened?
Mighty drinks maker Coca-Cola (KO -0.46%) has increased its quarterly dividend, boosting it by 6% to $0.35 per share.

That's par for the course, as the company is a Dividend Aristocrat -- one of the exclusive group of stocks that has raised its payout at least once for a minimum of 25 consecutive years. This latest boost is the company's hard-to-believe 54th in a row.

The upcoming distribution will be paid by Coca-Cola on April 1 to stockholders of record as of March 15. At the current stock price, it yields a respectable 3.2%, well ahead of the 2.3% average of the stocks on the S&P 500 index.

Does it matter?
Since a Coca-Cola dividend raise is approaching death and taxes-like inevitability, this most recent one probably won't affect sentiment on the stock too much.

Certain to have more of an impact is the company's recently announced results. Q4 2015 saw its revenue decline by 8% on a year-over-year basis to $10 billion, most of which was due to the persistent strength of the U.S. dollar for this most global of enterprises. Net profit saw a hefty 61% expansion to $1.2 billion (although the rise was largely due to a Q4 2014 that featured a big loss in the "other income" line item). Both top and bottom lines slightly beat expectations.

There was plenty in those quarterly figures for glass-half-full types to like. Though volume for the flagship carbonated beverages category was flat compared to the same quarter of 2014, their still brethren did well. All told, these collectively saw a 6% rise, with bottled water a particular standout.

Going forward, Coca-Cola is projecting that both revenue and per-share net profit for fiscal 2016 will increase by 4% to 6%. The company has an ambitious productivity initiative in place that aims to slice $3 billion in costs by 2019, which should help at least deliver that bottom-line growth forecast.

So dividend raise no. 54 can be considered a "business as usual" signal, showing that the company has confidence in its goals and projections. That should make shareholders at least cautiously optimistic and keep yield-thirsty income investors attracted to the stock.

Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola. 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.

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