By now, many investors know the soap opera that is the dividend story for many U.S. banks.
Prior to the financial crisis, the financial services sector was a dividend destination. That changed for the worse in 2008, but over the past several years, financial services has been one of the largest contributors to S&P 500 dividend growth.
Investors love the concept of dividend as evidenced by the billions of dollars that flowed into ETFs that hold stocks with lengthy dividend increase streaks or companies that will be the next breed of dividend boosters. And it is a concept to be enamored by. Historical data proves as much.
From 1972 through 2012 companies that initiated or consistently raised dividends delivered superior returns and were less volatile than the companies either did not pay, cut or kept dividends stagnant, according to Ned Davis Research.
Bloomberg recently ranked the top 25 potential dividend growers pulled from a universe of 130 S&P 500 constituents expected to boost payouts over the next three years. The banks that appear on the list are as follows in ascending order: Comerica (NYSE: CMA), Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK), KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Huntington Bancshares (NasdaqGM: HBAN), Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS), SunTrust (NYSE: STI), Regions Financial (NYSE: RF) and Citigroup (NYSE: C).
A well-known ETF, such as the Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF), can help investors capture some of that projected dividend growth. XLF, the largest sector ETF by assets, features Citigroup and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) among its top-15 holdings.