CFO Buthman elaborated further by saying, "We continue to allocate capital and shareholder from ways with the first quarter dividend payments in share repurchases totally nearly $800 million. In February we announced our 41st consecutive annual increase in the dividend. The 9.5% increase should help maintain our position as a top-tier dividend payer."
He said the company repurchaed $500 million worth of stock in the quarter and expects full-year repurchases to be between $1 billion and $1.2 billion.
As our own Jim Cramer likes to say, share repurchase programs are like a "tax-free dividend" since it decreases dilution and helps boosts the price of the stock, which Friday's leap higher fully demonstrated. The chart below gives us the one-year snapshot of KMB's share price exuberance but doesn't reflect the results of Friday's financial quarterly report.
KMB data by YCharts
Like so many other high-flying dividend dominators, KMB's share price has been driven more by the trailing 12-month revenue per share than by the quarterly year-over-year diluted EPS. The cost-cutting success of the company's leadership should be given some credit as well.
How about the other three members of what I call "The Four Horsemen of Consumer Goods" companies? Friday was a great day for them as well. Sure enough, Clorox (CLX) hit a 52-week high of $90.08 Friday before closing at $89.55. It's selling at 19 times forward earnings and the dividend yield is down to 2.86%. CLX marches into the earnings confessional on May 1. Then there's Colgate-Palmolive (CL)which also hit penthouse pricing today to an all-time high of $119.89 on lower-than-average volume. Also selling at 19 times forward earnings this "horseman of consumer goods" has a dividend yield-to-price of only 2.27%. Yes, I'm aware that the 10-year Treasury bond only yields 1.7% and state income tax-free. But I wouldn't feel comfortable having you chase that yield either. And my discomfort with these sky-high consumer goods companies has more to do with how they will sustain their share price levels. CL's dividend payout ratio is approaching 50% while KMB's is around 67%! Yikes!
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