Top 5 Dividend Increases This Week

Oil continues to drive the headlines, but that shouldn’t get in the way of building a portfolio of rising dividend stocks.
Another week has come and gone and we have another wave of companies upping their dividends.
However, many investors are still shell-shocked by the seemingly neverending fall in oil prices. With that, many dividend-paying stocks are flying under the radar.
For studious investors, there’s a solid flow of dividend stocks offering income amidst the current market turmoil.
We’ve once again done the heavy lifting, sifting through the stocks paying dividends this week and profiling the top five that are actually boosting their dividend payments.
Last week’s dividend increases included a couple big pharma companies and a very well-known apparel company.
The majority of the names on our list this week are low-key but still offer something for nearly every investor. Without further ado, here are the top five dividend increases this week:
Dividend Increase No. 1: Crown Castle International (NYSE: CCI)
Crown Castle offers the largest dividend of our five increases this week, with a 4.3% yield, and it also has the largest market cap, at $25 billion. Crown Castle is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns and operates wireless infrastructure such as towers that provide cell signals.
It will be upping its dividend by more than 200% this week. Its new quarterly dividend will be 82 cents a share.
The large increase comes as activist hedge fund Corvex Management pushed the company to return more cash to shareholders. Its annual dividend is now up to $3.28, but Corvex thinks Crown Castle can afford to pay out as much as $4 annually.
Shares trade ex-dividend Dec. 17.
Dividend Increase No. 2: South Jersey Industries (NYSE: SJI)
This $2 billion market cap utility company is upping its quarterly dividend 6% to just over 50 cents a share. Its dividend yield is 3.3%  What’s more, South Jersey has paid a dividend for 26 years and now has a streak of nine consecutive years of dividend increases.
South Jersey is a gas utility that provides natural gas to seven counties in New Jersey. It is also fairly enticing from a valuation standpoint. It trades at a price-to-book ratio of 2.3, well below the gas utilities industry average of 3.2.
South Jersey trades ex-dividend Dec. 18.
Dividend Increase No. 3: Huntington Bancshares (NASDAQ: HBAN)
The banking industry continues to be one of the fastest areas of dividend growth. Huntington is no different. It is upping its quarterly dividend by 20% to 6 cents a share, bringing its yield to 2.4%.
Huntington has paid a dividend for 24 years, but in 2009, it lowered its dividend payment amidst the financial crisis. Of late, however, the bank has been a consistent dividend payer.
Its stock performance has been on a tear over the last five years as well. But it’s been a laggard year-to-date, with shares up just 4.3% while the Select Sector Financial SPDR (NYSEARCA: XLF) is up 10.3%.
Yet, Huntington Bancshares has a return on equity that’s 10.2%, which is better than you’ll get with two of the largest regional banks; the returns on equity at BB&T (NYSE: BBT) and SunTrust (NYSE: STI) are both below 10%.
HBAN will trade ex-dividend Dec. 17.
Dividend Increase No. 4: Toro Co. (NYSE: TTC)
Toro is upping its dividend payment to 25 cents a share, marking a 25% increase. This marks the fourth straight year the company has increased its dividend.
Toro makes various turf management products, but is also a maker of snow blowers. Thus, Toro is an underrated play on the coming winter weather.
The return on invested capital is more than impressive at 23%. That’s above other dividend paying small-tools makers such as Snap-On (NYSE: SNA) and Lincoln Electric (NASDAQ: LECO).
Toro trades ex-dividend Dec. 19.
Dividend Increase No. 5: Gildan Activewear (NYSE: GIL)
Gildan is upping its dividend to 13 cents a share — a 20% boost. While its dividend yield is the lowest of our five stocks, coming in at 0.9%, it’s a compelling story. It has been paying a dividend for three years now.
Gildan is a Canada-based apparel company making t-shirts, underwear and the like. Its chief competitors include Fruit of the Loom and Hanesbrands (NYSE: HBI).
Gildan has a $7 billion market cap, making it just under half the size of activewear apparel maker Under Armour (NYSE: UA). However, Gildan’s return on invested capital of close to 20% is well above Under Armour’s.
Shares will trade ex-dividend Dec. 16.

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