Only 313 U.S. companies have increased sales every year for the past decade. These are companies that have improved every year since 1999 -- growing through three presidents and two bear markets.
Some of the biggest names that have pulled off this financial feat include Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Medtronic (NNYSE: MDT). Most of these companies don't pay enough in dividends -- or any in Amazon.com's case -- to make the final cut for serious income investors.
Thirteen of the 313 U.S. companies pay more than 6%.
|Empire District Electric (NYSE: EDE)||Utility||7.0%||$1.20||$1.28|
|Wash Real Estate
|Entertainment Prop. (NYSE: EPR)||REIT||8.3%||$0.06||$2.79|
|One Liberty Prop.
|First Real Estate
|Amer. Church Mtg.
Even with a decade of stellar earnings growth behind it, this list is full of landmines. American Church Mortgage Company's nearly 20% yield, for example, isn't very secure. In the past 12 months, the company has paid out more than twice what it has earned, making this company's dividend endangered.
Several others are worse. IRET, SUI, EPR, WRE, PVR, and BPL all paid out more than twice what they earned during the past twelve months.
Even though Empire District Electric (NYSE: EDE) has paid out slightly more in dividends than it has earned during the past 12 month, it's the winner in this category. A payout ratio of 108%, in the short-term, isn't too concerning, especially when it's a public utility monopoly that has the states it operates in on its side.
The company is currently seeking rate increases in several of its coverage areas that will help fill that gap. Earlier this month, it filed a request with the Kansas Corporation Commission to hike electricity rates in Kansas by nearly 25%. And at the end of October, the company filed a request with the Missouri Public Service Commission to hike electricity rates nearly 20%.
While customers won't be pleased with any hike, they'll have to find a way to deal with them as there are few other prospects, none of which are more agreeable than installing a wind turbine on the roof.
Based in Joplin, Missouri, the Empire District Electric is a century-old $661 million company that provides electricity, natural gas, or water services to some 215,000 customers in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Its seven power plants can produce 1,255 megawatts of power for the 121 cities it provides electricity to.
The company pays $0.32 per share quarterly for a total of $1.28 yearly. At current prices around $18, it equates to a yield of 7%. It has maintained its dividend at this level since 1992 and has continuously paid dividends since 1944.
This is not an exciting stock. With a beta of 0.76, it's significantly less volatile than the S&P 500. But over the past decade it has outperformed the S&P by +44 percentage points.
The company's next $0.32 per share dividend will be paid on December 15, 2009 to holders of record as of December 1, 2009.
The company offers a dividend reinvestment program through Wells Fargo Bank that provides a 3% discount to the three day average trading price preceding the dividend payment date. For more information on this program, call 800-468-9716 or visit this link.
Today, the company is attractively valued. It has a price to earnings of 15.3, a price to book of 1.2, and five-year price to earnings growth of 2.5. With a decade of steady sales growth, this company is positioned to keep pushing out its dividend in nearly any situation.