Today I'm running the rule over three FTSE-listed dividend stars.
The good life
Insurance giant Standard Life(LSE: SL) has a terrific history of lifting the dividend year after year, and the City does not expect this trend to cease any time soon. Indeed, current projections suggest that last year's reward of 18.36p per share will advance to 19.7p in 2016, and on up to 21.1p next year. Consequently Standard Life carries splendid yields of 6.2% and 6.6% for these years.
While dividend coverage falls below the safety benchmark of 2 times for this period -- earnings cover predicted dividends just 1.4 times through to end-2017 -- I have no fear that Standard Life will fail to meet these projections.
The insurer saw assets under administration rise 4% in 2015 to £307.4bn, with its broadening geographic exposure blasting new business volumes higher. On top of this, Standard Life's ability to create boatloads of cash -- underlying cash generation jumped 7% last year -- should boost investor confidence still further.
Supported by strong retail conditions in the UK and in Europe, not to mention the fruits of significant restructuring, Redefine International(LSE: RDI) has also been able to reward shareholders with meaty dividends in recent times.
Like Standard Life, Redefine's dividend coverage also falls foul of conventional rules. Indeed, projected payouts are covered just 1.1 times through to the end of next year.
But with 90% of income required to be distributed to shareholders under real estate investment trust (or REIT) rules -- and earnings at Redefine are expected to pound still higher -- I believe the business should make good on current expectations for market-mashing dividends.
The number crunchers expect the bottom line to rise 7% in both 2016 and 2017, underpinning chunky dividend projections of 3.25p and 3.3p correspondingly. This allows Redefine International to boast weighty yields of 7% for 2016 and 7.1% for next year.
Payouts in peril?
Broadband and television giant TalkTalk (LSE: TALK) has been a long-standing favourite for those seeking annual dividend growth. But City estimates suggest this trend may be coming to a halt.
TalkTalk provided a reassuring update in Thursday business. News that profits more than halved in the year to March 2016, falling to £14m, doesn't seem like any cause for celebration.
But this followed a massive cyber attack that saw the company shed around 100,000 customers during the third quarter. The 'hard yards' of promotional activity that TalkTalk has put in since then helped it to add 148,000 new customers between January and March this year.
And the City expects strong demand for TalkTalk's low-cost services to push earnings higher again from this year, although a rising debt pile is expected to see the dividend locked around current levels through to end-2017.
A subsequent 6.1% yield may tempt many income chasers. However, investors should consider that earnings are expected to lag dividends again this year, and to marginally surpass the projected payment for 2017.
And with BT and Sky scrambling to grab market share, I believe TalkTalk's payout forecasts could come under severe pressure.
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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Sky. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.