Last Week's Biggest Dividend Raises

Several big names on the market boosted their shareholder payouts last week. Two of those hikes were substantial at 50% apiece, and all were above the 10% watermark.

Sharing the prize for the week's highest dividend raise in percentage terms were ever-scrappy regional carrier Southwest Airlines and energy company Anadarko Petroleum . Both enacted increases of 50% over their existing distributions. The former -- a standout in the airline business for its consistent dividend -- is to hand out $0.06 per share on June 25 to holders of record as of June 4. It most recently paid a dividend of $0.04 per share in March.

The company is also launching a share buyback program for up to $1 billion of its stock.

Anadarko Petroleum's chunky increase comes despite a nearly $2.7 billion loss in its most recent quarter. That, however, is attributable to a long-brewing legal settlement and not underlying fundamentals, which showed improvement. The company's new dividend of $0.27 per share will be dispensed on June 25 to holders of record as of June 11. Anadarko's preceding distribution was $0.18 per share, handed out in late March.

Macy's is feeling optimistic these days. Last week, the department store chain released first-quarter results that saw it boost earnings per share by 9% on a year-over-year basis to $0.60. On the back of what it described as "expectations for continued strong performance in 2014," it also declared a fresh dividend that exceeds its predecessor by 25%. The new payout is $0.3125 per share; it will be distributed on July 1 to holders of record as of June 13.

Like Southwest Airlines, Macy's also threw a stock buyback plan into the mix. Its board increased the company's existing initiative by $1.5 billion, bringing the total authorized amount to roughly $2.5 billion.

Shoppers from coast to coast are familiar with supermarket chain Safeway. Investors everywhere might get to know the company better now that it has hiked its existing $0.20-per-share dividend by 15%. The new $0.23 distribution will be doled out on July 10 to shareholders of record as of June 19.

Finally, there's the original "don't leave home without it" credit card king, American Express . The storied financial concern lifted its dividend by 13% last week from $0.23 to $0.26. The new dividend is to be handed out on Aug. 8 to shareholders of record as of July 11.

The increase widens AmEx's lead in terms of dividend yield among the "big three" card issuers -- Visa and MasterCard being the other two. That's not saying much, though, as it now stands at a still-thin 1.2%. At least that's better than Visa's 0.8% and MasterCard's 0.6%.


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Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends American Express, MasterCard, and Visa, and owns shares of MasterCard and Visa. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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