These Stocks Just Raised Their Dividends

By Markets Fool.com

Annnnd ... we're off! The year's second-quarter earnings season has kicked into gear, meaning a fresh wave of dividend declarations -- for many firms, these are made shortly before, or at the same time as, their earnings releases.

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Because we're at the start of the season, there weren't a great many coming down the pipe last week. Yet there were still a few notable ones to talk about, specifically:

Enterprise Products Partners
This master limited partnership has bumped its quarterly distribution a bit over 1% to land at $0.375 per unit. This was nothing unexpected or unusual; it will be the MLP's 43rd consecutive increase.

Enterprise Products Partners is considered by many to be one of the better MLPs on the scene. It operates an extensive crude oil and natural gas pipeline and storage network, from which it generally derives revenue from fixed-fee contracts based on volume. Some of these carry minimum volume requirements.

This business model helps insulate it from the recent swoon in oil prices. The partnership's fiscal 2014 revenues were basically flat over those of 2013, indicating that said model has served as an effective hedge against such declines.

So Enterprise should continue to weather the storm, and thus keep up that streak of distribution hikes. If the oil price doesn't recover in the coming quarters, however, the partnership's ability to sustain or grow that payout could come under strain.

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Enterprise will hand out its upcoming distribution on May 7 to unit holders of record as of April 30. It is slated to announce its Q1 results on the morning of April 30.

Plains All American Pipeline
Elsewhere in the pipeline segment is this MLP, another recent distribution raiser. Plains All American last week declared a lift of almost 2%, to nearly $0.69 per unit.

Similarly to Enterprise Products Partners, this partnership is a midstream operator essentially in the business of oil and gas transportation and storage. And like its rival, that's been a bulwark against falling crude prices; on a year-over-year basis in fiscal 2014, Plains even managed to increase transportation volumes despite the turn-down.

The partnership is obviously confident that it'll be able to keep up its performance. It's forecasting that adjusted net profit will be flat, or even rise a bit, this fiscal year compared to 2014's nearly $1.4 billion.

Plains has also forecast that it'll be able to pump its distribution 7% higher over the course of this year. But as with Enterprise, investors should keep a wary eye on the development of oil prices to gauge whether that payout can flow to that degree.

Meanwhile a recent and successful $1.1 billion share issue should go a long way in shoring up the partnership's finances.

Plains will dispense its new distribution on May 15 to holders of record as of May 1, and is slated to release its Q1 results after market close on May 5.

Pier 1 Imports
Coinciding with the Q4 and fiscal 2015 results release of this home furnishings specialist was its latest dividend declaration. The company is to pay $0.07 per share, 17% higher than previously.

The key figures for those annual results were a pop in sales by 5% to nearly $1.9 billion, but a queasy 30% slide in the bottom line to $75 million. Nevertheless, the latter was a bit better than the market expected, and Pier 1's stock price advanced on the news.

The increase probably had more to do with the company's cost-rationalization measures going forward. It's planning to whittle down its real estate portfolio, closing around 100 stores to bring the total down to below 1,000 within the next three years.

Pier 1 still has a heavy physical presence, so shuttering a clutch of those outlets has a good chance of improving its results once the initiative kicks in.

As for the dividend, the company's most recent free cash flow figure was over 17 times what it paid out in dividends. But that line item tends to swing sharply up and down, and we're still not sure how successful that rationalization program is ultimately going to be. So to me, the payout seems sustainable for now ... but its mid- to long-term future looks cloudier.

Pier 1's new dividend is to be paid on May 6 to stockholders of record as of April 22.

The article These Stocks Just Raised Their Dividends originally appeared on Fool.com.

Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Enterprise Products Partners. 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.