Over the last five years, National Grid (LSE: NG) (NYSE: NGG.US) has paid out 197p in dividends. That works out as 30% of its share price from five years ago which, given that we have endured savings rates of less than 2% for much of that period, is a pretty good result.
Looking ahead, investors in National Grid can expect something similar moving forward. Thats because the company currently yields an impressive 4.7% and, with dividend per share growth of 2.7% per annum forecast over the next two years, income from an investment in National Grid should rise at a faster pace than inflation.
Certainly, shares in the company are not dirt cheap. For example, they trade on a price to earnings (P/E) ratio of 16.4 compared to the FTSE 100s 15, but with an excellent track record of dividend growth, a top notch yield, and inflation-beating dividend growth on offer, they appear to be well worth their current valuation.
With a dividend yield of 5%, Vodafone (LSE: VOD) (NASDAQ: VOD.US)also offers tremendous appeal as an income play. In fact, with the economic situation in the Eurozone continuing to be somewhat precarious, investors in Vodafone may rely upon the companys income for the bulk of their total return over the short to medium term, since there appears to be little sign of a marked improvement in the performance of the region.
That said, Vodafone continues to push ahead with its strategy of buying undervalued European assets for long term growth. And, looking ahead, this could prove to be a very sound move. Certainly, it requires patience but, with dividends per share forecast to rise by 2% per annum over the next two years, Vodafones yield could be as high as 5.2% next year.
As such, and while there will inevitably be a number of lumps and bumps along the way, Vodafone could prove to be a strong income play over the medium term.
Imperial Tobacco (LSE: IMT) is one of the few FTSE 100 companies to have increased dividends per share in each of the last four years and, looking ahead, this pattern is set to continue. For example, in the current year dividends per share are forecast to increase by 10%, followed by further growth of 9.3% next year. This means that, while it yields 4.8% right now, Imperial Tobacco could be yielding as much as 5.2% next year.
In addition, Imperial Tobacco still offers excellent value for money despite its share price rising by 34% in the last year. For example, it trades on a P/E ratio of 14.1, which is less than the FTSE 100s P/E ratio of 15. And, with its bottom line due to offer further stable growth over the medium term, its dividend per share rises should be strong and very stable, thereby making it a top notch income play.
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