Today I am looking at the investment case for three of the most attractive dividend stocks on the market.
Of course, the issue of mounting legal bills should be of huge concern to banking goliath Barclays (LSE: BARC) (NYSE: BCS.US). Not only was the company forced to hike PPI provisions by an extra £200m in October-December - taking the total to some £1.1bn - but it has also swallowed an additional £750m charge for the rigging of foreign exchange markets.
These amounts are of course staggering, but I believe that the bank remains a terrific long-term stock selection. Not only is the firm pulling up trees on the UK High Street, no doubt helped by the steady domestic economic recovery, but its Transform restructuring drive is also stripping out costs and improving its position in the critical digital banking space.
As a result, City analysts expect Barclays to follow last year's 13% earnings advance with further rises to the tune of 45% and 17% for 2015 and 2016 correspondingly.
Consequently the bank is anticipated to hike the dividend from the 6.5p per share payout seen during each of the past three years to 8.6p this year, and again to 11.5p in 2016. Therefore an already-meaty yield of 3.5% for 2015 leaps to an impressive 4.7% for next year.
The effect of intense competition across key markets is expected to keep weighing on car insurance giant Admiral (LSE: ADM) in the near-term. But with vehicle premiums back on the rise again after a period of sustained pressure - indeed, comparethemarket.com announced today that the average premium rose to £561.10 in February, up from £539.20 last year - I believe the Cardiff firm is a solid pick for those seeking solid dividend expansion.
The number crunchers expect Admiral to punch an 11% earnings decline in 2015, following on from last year's 2% dip. But the fruits of restructuring, improving market conditions in the UK, and expansion into Europe and the US is expected to push the bottom line 6% higher next year.
Consequently Admiral is predicted to shell out a mammoth dividend of 89.2p per share in 2015, creating a delicious yield of 5.8%. And this rises to an even-better 6.3% for 2016 thanks to an estimated full-year payment of 96p.
As falling underwriting pricing continues to whack insurance house Amlin (LSE: AML) - this fell 3.6% during 2015 - the company is expected to remain in the red for some time to come. Indeed, the company announced last month that "with competitive markets in many of our core business lines, it is unlikely that we will see significant growth in the short term."
This view is shared by the City's army of analysts, and current forecasts indicate that the firm will follow last year's 21% earnings decline with an additional 13% drop in 2015. A modest 1% rebound is pencilled in for next year.
But despite these travails, the insurer is expected to lift the full-year payment of 27p per share to 28.4p in 2015, and again to 29.6p in 2016, helped by the more-than-adequate levels of profit still being generated. As a consequence Amlin's already-bubbly yield of 5.5% for the present 12-month period leaps to an exceptional 5.8% for 2016. Still, investors should aware that challenging market conditions could put paid to chunky dividend growth in the longer term.
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Three shares with outstanding payout prospects
This website brings travellers together with people offering a huge variety of places to stay in 190 countries. The spaces range from an air bed in someone's lounge, to a luxury holiday home, so you can search for something to suit your needs and price range.
Before you travel, you need to sign up, search the site for accommodation, contact the host, and if they approve you can book their space. It means, for example, you can book a two bedroom flat in London for £80 a night - which is cheaper per person than a hostel - and much more pleasant.
This service connects people looking for a lift with drivers offering them. In the UK it is only operating in London at the moment - but it is expanding.
The service works through a smartphone app. When you're out and about you can use the app to find a driver in your area, hail them at the push of a button, and track their progress in reaching you.
The rates start at £3 plus 32p per minute for travel under 11mph and £1.75 per mile if you're driving faster. The flat fares include Heathrow to West London for £30 - which is significantly cheaper than a traditional taxi. The service was seen as such a dangerous competitor to London's black cabs that they staged a protest in June.
This is a free shopping app, which lets you scan barcodes when you're shopping, and the app will do a price comparison for the same products in local shops and on websites. You can even buy it online through the app.
It will also let you scan products you have at home and find the cheapest local (or online) stockist.
This started life as a flight search website, and has expanded to include car hire and hotels too. It draws together the advertised flight prices from over 1,000 airlines and travel agents and displays them in one place to save you the legwork.
It isn't perfect, because it relies on the information provided by the agents, so if the agent is tweaking the headline rate and then reverts to a higher price when you enquire, you'll waste a bit of time with the agents. It's therefore worth checking reviews on the cheapest agents that come up before you go any further. The prices drawn direct from the airlines, meanwhile, tend to be accurate.
This is a clever site which is designed to help you get a cheap deal on Amazon.co.uk. It has a few features, which you can use together to make sure you always get a good deal from the site.
The first is the price history charts, which show how the price has changed over time, and how the current price compares. If the price is comparatively low you can just buy at that price. Alternatively, if it has risen recently, you can set a price alert, where you input a price you would be happy to pay, and you will receive an alert when the price drops to this level.
If you use a lot of data on your smartphone, onavo extend will help you dramatically cut the data you get through.
It is a compression app, which works in the background on services like sending and receiving emails, checking maps and browsing the web, and ensures it all uses less data (although it doesn't work on things like Skype or streaming video). It works by ensuring that before any data is sent to your device, it goes through the company's servers and is compressed.
It can cut the amount of data you use by up to 50%, which can help you keep within data limits and save you a fortune. It will also monitor how much data you actually use which will help you pick the most cost-effective plan.
When you call 0800 numbers from your mobile it's not free, and it's usually not counted as part of your monthly inclusive minutes, so you'll be charged extra for the call.
If you install the free 0800 Wizard app, you type in the 0800 number, and it will automatically re-route your call to an 01, 02 or 03 number instead. These cost the same as a standard local call, so will be part of your monthly package. If you don't have any minutes left it will be charged as a standard geographic number.
This website is designed to let you shop around without leaving your home. You can use it in whatever way suits you best. For the dedicated bargain-hunter, you can input everything you want to buy, find the supermarket where each item is cheapest, and spend the absolute minimum.
For those who need a bit more convenience, you can fill your trolley as normal through the site (and use the swap and save button to see if you can save by buying a different size or brand). A basket icon on the right hand side of the screen will show you the cost of the same shop at alternative supermarkets, so you can switch the whole lot over at the click of a button. And there's even a vouchers button you can use before you checkout to see if you can save more. The site claims that you'll save an average of £17 every time you shop using the site.
There are lots of voucher apps and websites out there, but one which is worth a look is vouchercloud. Whether you're shopping, eating out, going to the cinema or going for a drink with friends, you can use the location function of this app to find the best deals on offer near to where you are.
This site has been around for a while, but remains a vital tool. You can search for the cheapest petrol in your area - or the area you are visiting - so you can pay less for your fuel without going out of your way. It's free to sign up and you get 20 free searches a week. There's also a PetrolPrices Pro app, so you can check prices when you're on the road.