S&P 500 companies have now posted healthy double-digit earnings growth for five straight quarters -- maintaining a 20%-plus pace for a few of those. While the first quarter of 2019 could fall on either side of zero, full-year 2019 profits are expected to climb another 5% over last year's record levels.
In short, it's been a good environment for dividend growth. That's exactly what we like to see over at my premium newsletter, High-Yield Investing.
As my premium subscribers know, I keep tabs on companies that are likely to announce dividend hikes in the coming month and share my findings in regular issues. And while the companies mentioned may not end up being official portfolio recommendations right away, it's always a good exercise that could eventually lead to another long-term winner.
Here are four more prospects likely to reward investors with increased payouts starting next month.
With stronger sales volumes and expanding margins, Air Products has delivered 19 straight quarters of rising profits. Management is expecting earnings to increase by 10% in fiscal 2019, paving the way for yet another annual dividend hike -- the 37th in a row.
With a healthy balance sheet and strong cash flows, the company is lifting quarterly distributions to $1.16 per share. That's an increase of 50% over the past five years.
2. Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) -- Best Buy posted a healthy 4.3% increase in comparable store sales last quarter, citing strength in mobile phones, gaming, and smart-home products. Management promptly upped its 2019 outlook and is now anticipating earnings growth of 15% to 17%.
The electronics retailer has come a long way from its days as a mere "showroom" for internet shoppers. In fact, the firm's own digital sales channel increased revenues by 12% last quarter to $1.2 billion, thanks to stronger traffic and better conversion rates. BBY has boosted dividends from $0.28 to $0.34 to $0.45 per share over the past two years, with step-ups in the March quarter.
Given the brighter outlook, another could be on the way soon.
3. Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN) -- Vail is the corporate parent of a dozen winter playgrounds, including its namesake resort, along with others such as Breckenridge, Colorado, Stowe, Vermont, and Lake Tahoe's Heavenly. Aside from lift tickets and rentals (which seem to get pricier every year), the company has a lodging division that owns and manages thousands of slope-side condos.
For a company associated with speeding downhill, Vail's dividends have been rising at a steep trajectory. Over the last five years, they have climbed to $1.47 per share from $0.41-- an increase of more than 250%. A 17% increase in visitors so far this season has driven revenues from lift tickets, ski school, dining and retail all up by double-digits.
That bodes well for another dividend hike next month.
4. Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL) -- This consumer staples giant is best known for toothpaste, but its portfolio includes many other household products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and laundry detergent that get prominent placement on store aisles in 200 countries. You might recognize some of its brands such as Irish Spring and Speed Stick.
The company has one of the most dependable dividend track records around. It hasn't missed an annual dividend payment since Grover Cleveland was President in 1895. While growth is limited in this mature industry, CL has been rewarding stockholders with modest hikes each March and is likely to do so again this year.