Marathon Petroleum, Quest Diagnostics, and 9 other companies raise dividends

  • By Lawrence C. Strauss and Alistair Bates,
  • Barron's
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Chevron, Quest Diagnostics and HCA Healthcare were among the companies that declared dividend increases last week in a busy period for such announcements.

Chevron, a major integrated energy company, declared a quarterly dividend of $1.29 a share, up 8.4%. Last year Chevron (CVX) increased its dividend by 6%.

The stock, which yields 4.8%, has a one-year loss of 6%, reflecting the difficulties energy companies have faced amid weaker oil prices.

Quest Diagnostics (DGX) declared a quarterly dividend of 56 cents a share, up 3 cents, for a boost of nearly 6%. The medical testing company’s stock, which has a one-year return of nearly 30%, yields 1.9%.

HCA Healthcare (HCA) is planning to up its quarterly payout to 43 cents a share, up 7.5% from 50 cents. The stock yields 1.2%. Its one-year return is up slightly. The company’s businesses include operating hospitals.

AmerisourceBergen (ABC), one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in the U.S., plans to raise its quarterly dividend by 5% to 42 cents a share. It’s currently 40 cents.

The stock, which yields 2%, has a one-year return of about 4%.

Financial services firm Charles Schwab (SCHW) plans to boost its quarterly payout by a penny to 18 cents a share. That’s an increase of 6%. Charles Schwab, whose one-year return is flat, yields 1.6%.

Alaska Air Group (ALK) declared a quarterly dividend of 37.5 cents a share, a 7% increase from 35 cents. The stock yields 2.3%. Its one-year return is about 2%. The company expanded its route network with its $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America, especially in California.

Tech company Juniper Networks (JNPR) plans to boost its quarterly dividend to 20 cents a share from 19 cents. That’s a 5% increase. The stock, which yields 3.5%, is down 9% in the past 12 months.

The company’s products include switching and routing equipment for data networks.

Chevron wasn’t the only energy firm to announce a dividend increase last week.

Marathon Petroleum (MPC), an oil refiner, plans to boost its quarterly dividend to 58 cents a share from 53 cents. That’s a little more than a 9% increase.

Factoring in the higher dividend, the yield would be about 4.2%, based on Friday’s stock price. The stock is down 15% in the past 12 months— another example of how energy stocks have struggled.

Stifel Financial (SF) declared a 13.3% increase to its quarterly dividend, raising it to 17 cents a share from 15 cents. The stock, which yields about 1%, has a one-year return of nearly 34%. The brokerage firm is based in St. Louis.

Shareholders of Nexstar Media (NXST), which operates television stations and digital media properties, will be looking forward to a big boost in their quarterly payout. The company announced a 24% dividend hike to 56 cents a share.

The move closely follows the company’s $7.2 billion acquisition last year of the Chicago-based Tribune Media, a deal that created the largest local television broadcaster in the U.S.

The stock, which yields 1.5%, has a one-year return of about 50%.

Comerica (CMA), a large regional bank based in Dallas, will be increasing its quarterly dividend as well.

The payout will rise to 68 cents a share, up 1.5% from 67 cents. The stock, whose yield is about 4.5%, has lost about 20% in the past year.

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