Are these the best small-cap shares for dividend investors?
At face value SThree (LSE: STHR) may not be the most scintillating dividend pick out there. After all the recruitment giant has kept the annual dividend frozen since 2012, and another expected freeze in fiscal 2016 will stretch the run out to a fifth successive year.
And City brokers don't expect this trend to cease soon either. Indeed, SThree is expected to pay a 14p per share reward again in the period to November 2017.
But investors shouldn't forget that this projection still yields a colossal 4.5%, and takes out the forward average of 3.5% for Britain's blue chips by no small margin.
While an expected 5% earnings decline in the current year results in dividend coverage of 1.4 times -- trailing the widely-considered security benchmark of two times -- SThree's strong cash-generative qualities should soothe fears over dividend projections for the current period. Net cash climbed to £10m in November from £6.2m the year before.
And I believe SThree's growing success in foreign markets like the US and Europe should underpin its position as a lucrative dividend selection long into the future.
Hit the floor
Flooring play Headlam Group (LSE: HEAD) is also expected to remain a winner for income chasers for some time yet.
The Birmingham business is anticipated to raise the dividend for fiscal 2016 to 22.1p per share from 20.7p the year before. And this upward trajectory is predicted to persist in the near term at least -- a 23.1p payout is predicted for the current year.
This creates a stunning dividend yield of 4.8%. And while payout coverage may also stand at 1.4 times, I believe that Headlam's strong progress at home and abroad provides the base for dividends to keep creeping skywards.
Headlam soothed the fears of those hand-wringing over Brexit last month by advising of "no discernible impact on trading following the EU referendum in June 2016." And the floor coverings colossus advised that recent price hikes to mitigate sterling weakness have had "no adverse impact on residential sector revenue."
I also believe the fruits of massive restructuring at Stobart Group(LSE: STOB) should blast dividends northwards again from this year onwards.
Like SThree, Stobart has kept shareholder rewards locked for some time, on this occasion around 6p per share. But with the business now kicking up oodles of cash, Stobart is predicted to pay dividends of 11.2p and 12p for the years to February 2017 and 2018 respectively.
These figures produce monster yields of 6.3% and 6.7%. And while projected dividends may sail above predicted earnings through to the end of fiscal 2018, the heaps of cash Stobart is generating from property disposals should allow the business to meet these generous predictions.
And with revenues streaming in across its infrastructure and support services divisions -- the top line swelled 13% during March-August -- I reckon Stobart should remain one of the small cap index's hottest income picks.
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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.