ETF Trends
ETF Trends

The late first quarter/early second quarter time frame is often fertile territory for dividend increases with some of the most venerable dividend payers expected to hike payouts in the coming weeks.

Those coming dividend increases could prove to be good news for dividend exchange traded funds, particularly those that emphasize dividend increases as part of their stock selection criteria. The ProShares S&P 500 Aristocrats ETF (NYSEArca: NOBL) is a perfect example.

Among the big name blue chips expected to boost dividends in the coming weeks are Dow components Chevron (NYSE: CVX), Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), reports Jon C. Ogg for 24/7 Wall Street.

Each of those companies have dividend increase streaks of at least 25 years, which qualify them for admission into the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index, NOBL’s underlying benchmark. As of the end of the fourth quarter, none of NOBL’s 53 holdings accounted for more than 2.2% of the ETF’s weight, which is to say to the ETF is not vulnerable to single-stock risk. That also means Chevron, Exxon and Procter & Gamble do not combine for a significant percentage of NOBL’s lineup.

The ability of Chevron and Exxon to continuing raising dividends as oil prices plummet is important because while Wall Street and Main Street have been somewhat tolerant of the companies’ plans to trim exploration and production spending and suspend buybacks, not extending dividend increase streaks would universally be seen as a negative.

Exxon boosted its dividend 9.5% last year while Chevron raised its payout 7%, though 24/7 Wall Street warns investors should expect no more than “token” dividend increases this year. Translation: The two oil giants will do just enough to remain part of NOBL. [Energy ETFs Still Have Firm Dividends]

On the other hand, P&G is approaching 60 consecutive years of higher dividends, one of the longest such streaks among U.S. companies. The Ohio-based company raised its payout 7% in April 2014. Another Dow component and NOBL holding that usually raises its dividend in April is Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). Assuming J&J follows that pattern this year, that will mark 53 consecutive years of higher dividends.

Two more Dow components, including Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL), the index’s newest member, are expected to hike payouts in the coming weeks.

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