With many UK companies slashing their dividend payments in the last few years, there's no doubt that dividend investing has become more difficult.
While dividend cuts are usually associated with a significant fall in a company's share price, companies that reward their shareholders with increasing payouts generally see their share prices increase, resulting in a double boost to total shareholder returns.
Today I'm examining three FTSE 100 stocks with dividend growth potential for the future.
Long-term growth story
Drinks manufacturer Diageo (LSE: DGE) is a company with a long-term secular growth story at play.
The owner of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness has significant emerging markets exposure, and the growing incomes and aspirational nature of consumers in these regions should drive revenue growth over the long term.
Although earnings suffered last year as China's 'anti-extravagance' measures came into force, Diageo still increased its dividend by 9% to 56p per share, putting the current yield at around 3.1%.
And over the five-year period between 2010 and 2015, shareholders enjoyed compounded annual growth in dividends of an impressive 6.5%.
Will the company continue to boost dividend payouts going forward? Although analysts are estimating a FY2016 dividend of 58p, this could be dependent on whether growth in key countries such as China can pick up. There's a possibility that dividend growth for Diageo won't be as prolific in the short term while emerging market growth is subdued.
Over the long term however, I believe that the exposure to faster growing markets should enable the company to keep rewarding its shareholders with increasing dividend payments.
Budget airline easyJet (LSE: EZJ) has come a long way in the last five years. Not only have earnings grown from 30p per share in 2010 to £1.39 last year, but after paying a dividend of 11p per share in 2011, the airline is now paying out a whopping 55p per share to shareholders.
That's a very respectable yield of 3.86% and with analyst consensus forecasting a dividend of 66p per share for 2016 - that would push the yield up to a fantastic 4.15%.
But is easyJet's dividend safe? Well, with the dividend covered 2.5 times by earnings, a free cash flow yield of just under 5%, and a low debt-to-equity ratio of just 22%, I believe so.
Of course, there are plenty of issues that can affect an airline, such as geopolitical uncertainty, oil price fluctuations and right now, Brexit fears.
But with the share price down around 19% this year, and the stock trading on a PE ratio of just 9.82 next year's earnings, I feel easyJet is a standout dividend growth stock.
Telecommunications giant BT Group (LSE: BT.A) is another company that has grown its dividend strongly in recent years. In fact, over the last five years, BT's dividend has doubled from 7p to 14p. That puts the current yield at 3.17%.
Results last week were positive with year-on-year revenues up 6%, and the company saying it had the potential to deliver more synergies than expected from the acquisition of mobile operator EE.
With a free cash flow ratio of 5.53% and a dividend coverage ratio of 1.95%, BT should be able to reward shareholders with increasing dividends payouts going forward.
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Edward Sheldon has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Diageo. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.