It is a powerful statement when others are hoarding cash that a company has the confidence to declare its first dividend to eliminate excess cash. Oracle (ORCL) did just that on Wednesday when it reported third-quarter EPS of $0.35/share, $0.03/share better than the analyst estimate of $0.32/share, and it declared its first ever dividend of $0.05/share. The dividend yield is 1.15%. ORCL is a leading supplier of enterprise database management systems and business applications.
Another company looking to give cash back to their shareholders is FortuNet (FNET). On Tuesday, FNET announced that shareholders will vote at its 2009 annual meeting on April 17, 2009 on a special $2.50/share cash dividend that was approved by the Board of the Company. FNET is a manufacturer of multi-game and multi-player server-based gaming platforms.
One Dividend Aristocrat chose to raise its dividend in a more traditional manner. Thursday, Air Products and Chemicals Inc. (APD) announced a 2.2% increase its quarterly dividend to $0.45/share payable on May 11, 2009 to shareholders of record at the close of business on April 1, 2009. The new dividend yield is 3.17%. APD is a major producer of industrial gases and specialty and intermediate chemicals also has interests in environmental and energy-related businesses.
Other than the above, it was a slow week for dividend increases. Unfortunately, the dividend slashers were still out in full force. Times like these separate the pretenders from the contenders. For more companies around the world with a long string of consecutive dividend increases, see my updated Stock Ideas page. There were a lot of companies crossed off last week.
Full Disclosure: No position in any of the aforementioned securities.
(Photo: Steve Woods)