operates as a technology, media, and financial services company worldwide. Back in 2009, General Electric (GE) cut dividends by 68% to 10 cents/share. Investors, who just a few months earlier were reassured by the company's CEO that the dividend is safe, rushed to the exits, sending the stock price to its lowest levels in a decade. The company halted its stock buyback program, and issued shares to the public. Legendary Investor Warren Buffett also made an investment in the conglomerate, by putting several billion in exchange for preferred stock yielding 10%. Almost one and half years after the dividend was cut, the company raised its quarterly dividend 20% to 12 cents/share on Friday. The news sent the stock over 3% higher for the day. Whether the company can rebuild its streak of consecutive dividend increases remains to be seen however.
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"We are able to restore the GE dividend at a historical payout level for 2010 earlier than previously anticipated and to extend our share buyback program because of continued strong cash generation, recovery at GE Capital, and solid underlying performance in our Industrial businesses through the first half of 2010," GE CEO Jeff Immelt said. "In addition, the Company continues to plan on capitalizing on strategic and financially attractive inorganic growth opportunities. "
"We are executing well, progressing on our plans to make GE Capital a smaller, more competitive specialty-finance company, and continuing to generate strong cash flow," Immelt said. "This gives us the flexibility to allocate capital for growth and shareholder value, while keeping GE safe and secure."
Other companies which are seldom mentioned, but should probably get much more credit include energy master limited partnerships, which boast strong cash flows and stable distributions. In addition to that, the toll-bridge business model for those energy transportation companies has enabled many of them to raised distributions more than once per year.
Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE: EEP) owns and operates crude oil and liquid petroleum transportation and storage assets, as well as natural gas gathering, treating, processing, transmission, and marketing assets in the United States. The company announced a cash distribution of $1.0275 per unit, which was an increase of 2.5 percent over previous quarters distribution per unit. Yield: 7.10%
Navios Maritime Partners L.P. (NYSE: NMM) operates as an international owner and operator of drybulk carriers in Greece. Navios Maritime Partners L.P. increased cash distributions by 1.20% to $0.42 per unit and has consistently raised distributions since going public in 2008. Yield: 9.20%
Western Gas Partners, LP (NYSE: WES) owns, operates, acquires, and develops midstream energy assets in east and west Texas, the Rocky Mountains, and the Mid-Continent. This master limited partnership raised quarterly distributions by 3% to 35 cents/unit and has consistently raised distributions since going public in 2008.