There’s never really a bad time to invest in companies that regularly raise dividends year after year. Reliable dividend growth is a sign of financial strength and a steady source of income in markets both good and bad. According to Richard Turnill, BlackRock’s global chief investment strategist, now is an especially good time to buy as the Federal Reserve continues its campaign to boost interest rates. “[Dividend growers] tend to be more resilient amid rising rates and outperform when rising rates are driven by higher inflation,” he says.
A smart way to identify attractive dividend stocks is to focus on the Dividend Aristocrats, 50 companies in Standard & Poor’s 500-index that have raised dividends for at least 25 years in a row. The biggest Dividend Aristocrats are well known to income investors and feature prominently in many retirement portfolios. (Think AT&T (T), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Procter & Gamble (PG), Coca-Cola (KO) and the like.) However, the smaller Dividend Aristocrats tend to fly under the radar. Take a look at 25 surprising companies whose dividends have increased annually for a quarter-century or more.