Small-cap Fuller Smith & Turner(LSE: FSTA) flies under the radar of most investors, but this diamond in the rough has a hidden secret.
What many investors don't realise is that this company is one of the few companies in the world that has an extraordinary record of increasing its dividend for over seven decades.
And today the company added to that record by announcing a 4% increase to its interim dividend alongside its half-year results.
For the 26 weeks to the end of September, the family-owned company reported a 4% increase in pre-tax profit to £23.8m and a 5% increase in adjusted earnings per share to 34.2p. What's more, revenue expanded across all divisions as CEO Simon Emeny said that in the 33 weeks since 1 April 2017, like-for-like sales in its Managed Pubs have risen 3.7%, while like-for-like profit in its Tenanted Inns is up 2% and total beer and cider volumes in The Fuller's Beer Company are up 1%.
These figures are highly impressive, especially when the rest of the pub industry is suffering from multiple headwinds such as the rising minimum wage and a squeeze on consumers' incomes. Indeed, only yesterday peer Mitchells & Butlers announced that it was slashing its dividend after adjusted operating profit for the year to the end of September fell 3.1%, thanks in part to rising costs.
Looking at today's figures from Fuller's, it would appear that the group is using its decades of experience as a pub operator to navigate today's choppy trading environment exceptionally well, a testament to management and great news for shareholders. The firm's outperformance should underpin continued dividend growth making this a great stock for long-term income seekers.
At the time of writing, the shares support a dividend yield of 2% and this payout is covered three times by earnings per share, leaving plenty of room for manoeuvre.
This is one dividend stock that you can buy and forget for the next few decades.
Changing with the times
James Fisher & Sons(LSE: FSJ) is another company that has proved itself over the past few decades. In fact, the business has been operating for over 170 years, so it has plenty of experience of working through both the good times and the bad.
This has helped the firm navigate through the energy industry slump by expanding into renewables and this transition is paying off handsomely. According to a trading update issued by the firm today, revenue for the 10 months ended 31 October was 7% ahead of the comparable period last year, and the group remains on track to hit City expectations for the year.
Unfortunately, it seems the market isn't pleased with this update, as the shares are trading lower by 3% at the time of writing. However, while the market may have lost interest in the business, as a long-term buy, James Fisher looks highly attractive to me.
Earnings per share are expected to hit 82.2p this year, a five-year high and up 46% from 2012. If the group can remain on this growth trajectory, and continue to re-invent itself, there's no reason why James Fisher cannot help you make a million from investing. The shares trade at a P/E of 19.5 and yield 1.8%.
The fastest way to a million
Companies that have proven they have what it takes to survive for 50 years or more, like Fuller's and James Fisher, are the perfect income investments.
Even though the yield on offer from these two companies might be below the market average, their record of distributing earnings to shareholders means that you can buy, forget and watch your money grow with almost no effort.
For more tips on how to make your money work harder, I highly recommend that you take a look at this free report from the Motley Fool, which looks at all the benefits income stocks can bring to your portfolio.
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Rupert Hargreaves owns no share mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.