Coca-Cola, while not sporting as big of a yield or as big of increases, has bumped its dividend higher by 7% or more in each of the last 10 years, with the exception of 2009, when it increased it by only 4.75%.
Although the usual 8-cent annual raise is consistent, it would be nice to see the company aim for a 10% increase in its dividend, especially while only having a payout ratio of 52%. This would require a 3-cent per share increase to the current (2013) quarterly dividend, and based on 2014 EPS estimates, it would raise the payout ratio to only 54.6%, while the annual dividend would increase 10.7%.
But this is also a blessing in disguise. As a shareholder, you have the comfort of knowing the company could raise the dividend if it wanted to, while also knowing there's a very low likelihood that you will wake up one morning to news that it was cut.
Both growth and dividend strategies have their own advantages and disadvantages, but nothing bans investors from combining the best of both worlds.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.
At the time of publication, the author was long shares of V, MA, MCD, KO and SBUX.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.