Dividend Yield: 2.6%
Next on the list is operating system and office productivity behemoth Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). I include Microsoft not so much for the company’s social responsibility as for the actions of its iconic founder, Bill Gates. As the founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates is, in effect, the largest philanthropist in the world and one of the biggest supporters of HIV/AIDS research.
One might question some of Gates’ business practices while building Microsoft into its dominant global position, but no one can question that he has decided to make good use of his vast wealth. He also has acted as an inspiration to other high-profile billionaires, such as Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK.A, BRK.B) Warren Buffett. (Berkshire Hathaway would have made this list, by the way, as I consider the company a model corporate citizen. Alas, Mr. Buffett does not pay a dividend.)
Microsoft pays a respectable dividend at 2.6%, but Microsoft is also one of the fastest dividend growers of any large-cap stock anywhere in the world. Microsoft grew its dividend by 25% last year and 23% the year before. It might not keep up this torrid pace forever, but it is safe to say you won’t find this kind of dividend growth just anywhere.