Did This Dividend Boost Go Far Enough?

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I want my MTV -- and a bit more cash, please.

Media conglomerate Viacom (NAS: VIAB) just boosted its dividend payout by 10%. With quarterly payouts of $0.275 per share, the stock will yield about 2.3% over the next year at today's share prices. Viacom's TV properties -- including MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon -- and major movie studio Paramount Pictures throw off plenty of cash. Over the past 12 months, Viacom paid out about 20% of its free cash flows in the form of dividends, leaving lots of headroom for a dividend boost.

That said, Viacom is far from a dividend king. The new yield is more generous than what you'd get from industry rival Walt Disney (NYS: DIS) , which pays out $0.60 a year in dividends for a modest 1.4% yield, but then Disney has been handing out cash payments without fail since 1987, while Viacom's payouts only go back to 2010.


And both companies prefer buying back stock rather than juicing dividends anyhow. Fellow Fool Morgan Housel argues that most CEOs are terrible investors and would be better off paying generous dividends than making ill-timed stock purchases. Maybe you should look at investments leaning more heavily toward hefty dividend disbursements instead.

Staying in the entertainment sector, World Wrestling Entertainment (NYS: WWE) is a massive cash machine that hardly bothers with share buybacks but pays out a 6% yield today. The problem? The pro-wrestling house often pays out more than it can really afford to. And that's after slashing the dividend by two-thirds in 2011..

Moving further out of Hollywood, regional telecom and cable service provider Frontier Communications (NYS: FTR) doesn't buy back shares at all but currently pays out 109% of its free cash flows to shareholders for a juicy 12% yield. But the free cash was held back by the massive costs of tripling in size by acquiring assets Verizon didn't want, so the payout ratio should come down to saner levels soon enough.

Or you can go whole hog and park your income-generating assets in a pure dividend machine like Annaly Capital Management (NYS: NLY) . The massive mortgage real-estate investment trust sports an eye-popping 13.3% yield as the shares trade for little more than book value. This company doesn't mess with buying back stock, though it does often print dilutive new shares.

Viacom might become a dividend dynamo in due time but still has a lot to prove before fitting that bill. Analysts were actually hoping for a much larger boost this time. Learn more about securing your future with rock-solid dividend stocks in this free report, including nine new investment ideas. But hurry up and get your copy now, because the report won't be free forever.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorAnders Bylundholds no position in any of the companies mentioned. Check outAnders' holdings and bio, or follow him onTwitterandGoogle+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Annaly and Disney.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Annaly and Disney. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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