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3 FTSE Dividends Lifted This Week: Stagecoach Group plc, Greene King plc And DS Smith plc

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) looks like finally having an up week, with the index of top UK shares down 24 on the day to 6,219 points but up 103 on the week so far. While share prices are going through such an erratic period, we’d do well to remind ourselves that dividends are unaffected by day-to-day changes in market sentiment and can provide us with a nice safety net.

To that end, which companies have been lifting their dividends? Here are three from the various indices that have announced full-year rises this week:

Stagecoach

On Wednesday, Stagecoach Group (LSE: SGC) lifted its final dividend from 5.4p per share to 6p, taking the transport firm’s total for the year up 10.3% to 8.6p per share — that’s a yield of 2.9% on the previous day’s share price close of 299.5p.

The payout was made possible by a 19% rise in underlying earnings per share to 30.2p, after the firm saw revenue rise 8.2% with adjusted pre-tax profit up 8.1%.

Stagecoach’s dividend yield might be low, but its annual payment has been rising reliably and is very well covered.

Greene King

Brewer and pub operator Greene King (LSE: GNK) announced a final dividend of 19.45p per share on Thursday, taking its total payout to 26.6p for a rise of 7.3%. That’s the firm’s third annual dividend rise in a row, after a small cut in 2010, and gave shareholders a yield of 3.6% on Wednesdays close of 746p — the price is up to 776p since then.

Analysts are forecasting dividend rises of around 6% per year for the next two years, with earnings forecasts putting the shares on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 13 for next year, falling to 12 for the year to April 2015.

DS Smith

DS Smith (LSE: SMDS) also raised its dividend on Thursday, this time announcing a final payment of 5.5p per share to take its annual total up a very impressive 36% to 8p per share, for a yield of 3.3% on Wednesday’s 240p close. The recycled packaging firm’s results gave the share price a boost, too, and it’s up to 247p today.

Dividends have been rising steadily, with a further boost of 11.5% forecast for next year. And with an earnings rise of around 25% on the cards, the shares are on a forward P/E of under 12.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.