In the past five years, BHP has delivered 15% yearly earnings growth and a 37% average return on equity (ROE). Dividends have risen more than 30% a year, and with a payout at just 26% of earnings, there's plenty of room for further growth.
2. CA Technologies
CA Technologies is the world's leading vendor of software for information technology management. More than 99% of Fortune 1000 companies use CA software for IT tasks such as managing databases, backing up data and running compliance checks.
CA benefits from demand for evolving IT technologies such as virtualization, cloud computing and software-as-a-service. In addition, the company invests $600 million a year in research and development and as much as $500 million a year in technology acquisitions.
CA's earnings rose 11% in 2011 and an average of at least 9% in each of the past five years. The company generates more than $1.3 billion of annual cash flow and is returning more cash to investors. With payout at just 11%, CA was able to hike its dividend five-fold in the first quarter of 2012 to a new annualized rate of $1.
CA has a very healthy balance sheet showing $2.5 billion of cash and only $1.4 billion of debt. The new 4% yield puts CA in the top-tier of dividend-paying technology companies. There is still room for growth because the new payout is still only about 40% of projected 2012 earnings.
3. Royal Dutch Shell
With proven reserves of 14.3 billion barrels, Shell ranks as the world's fourth-largest oil company. The company produced 1.2 billion barrels of oil last year and replaced 160% of reserves, meaning the company discovered 16 new barrels for every 10 barrels it produced.
Shell is divesting noncore assets and reinvesting the proceeds in exploration and production. The company has a huge oil sands project underway in western Canada that is expected to raise overall oil and gas production by as much as 10%. Shell also has a large shale gas position in North America that is projected to add to the bottom line. Its deep-water drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico also hold considerable promise.