Aerospace and defense stock Honeywell (HON) raised its guidance late Tuesday, driving shares up today even while the broader market has rolled back. The dividend stock now expects first-quarter profit to range from 45 to 49 cents per share, up from prior guidance for 40 to 45 cents. For the full year, HON expects profits to reach the top end of its prior $2.20 to $2.40 forecast.
Honeywell’s strength isn’t a surprise for those who have been watching. Despite a strong following of dividend investors, the company is anything but sleepy. Honeywell has met or exceeded earnings estimates for each of the last four quarters. Additionally, HON has grown its earnings per share in each of the last four consecutives quarters. New Jersey-based Honeywell operates in four business segments: aerospace, automation and control solutions, specialty materials and transportation systems. It appears that as the economy has improved, HON has been able to bank more orders.
Looking forward, the stock is showing strength. But perhaps the biggest opportunity for investors lies in Honeywell’s dividend history.
HON boasts a current dividend yield of 2.7%, based on annualizing the 30 cents a share payout announced by the company on February 11. However, that marked the fifth straight quarter Honeywell’s dividend has been flat despite a record of raising dividends every year since 2005. It stands to reason that with more profits on hand, Honeywell will boost its dividend. Competitor United Technologies (UTX) boosted its dividend in February, marking the 74th straight year of increases for this Dow component, so HON will surely look to keep pace the next chance it gets to raise its dividend yield.
That chance is sure to be Honeywell’s annual shareholder meeting on April 26.
Of course, that leaves plenty of time for you to buy into Honeywell and still share in the dividend hike if and when one comes. However, shares have shown a lot of strength lately surging over 20% since February 8. You may not want to wait any longer to buy in.
In the longer term, you can expect other companies in Honeywell’s space to push up their dividends as well. That includes General Electric (GE), which has a shareholder meeting around the same time — April 28, to be exact. Another defense and aerospace stock that could see a dividend boost is Boeing (BA). Its dividend has been flat for the last four quarters after a measly 5% hike in its quarterly payouts in the first quarter of 2009. Boeing’s shareholders meet on April 26.
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