Today I’m looking at the investment potential of three dividend giants.

A smoking dividend pick

Cigarette play British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS) cheered the market during Thursday’s session after releasing better-than-expected financial results for 2015.

The London firm advised that revenues slipped 6.2% last year to £13.1bn, with adverse currency movements driving the top line lower. On a constant currency basis sales actually leapt 5.4%.

The results underlined the strength of the firm’s ‘Global Drive Brands’ like Lucky Strike and Rothmans. The popularity of these labels meant that cigarette volumes dipped just 0.5% in 2015, much better than an estimated industry decline of 2.3%.

The terrific pricing power of these products enables British American Tobacco to traverse the problem of falling aggregate demand more effectively than its rivals. And with the company doubling down in investment in these brands — as well as improving its e-cigarette stable — I believe revenues at the tobacco giant should ignite in the years to come.

British American Tobacco hiked the dividend 4% for 2015 to 154 US cents per share, and an extra rise — to 164.8p — is forecast for this year, helped by a predicted 9% earnings uptick. Consequently the business carries a terrific dividend of 4.3%.

Supplier going south

I’ve long cast doubt over the long-term payout prospects of energy giant Centrica (LSE: CNA).

Not only is the firm’s British Gas operation being battered by an environment of increasing competition, but the prospect of draconian regulatory action — from profits caps right through to a potential breaking-up of the group — also continues to loom large. Meanwhile, a dragging crude price is also weighing heavily on the firm’s Centrica Energy upstream division.

Despite expectations of a third consecutive earnings dip in 2016, this time by a chunky 9%, the City expects Centrica to raise the dividend to 12.3p per share, yielding a handsome 5.8%.

I for one am hugely sceptical over such a scenario however, with Centrica battling the prospect of further revenues pain, not to mention a tattered balance sheet. Indeed, Moody’s put the company’s credit rating under review this month. I believe that further dividend cuts can’t be ruled out.

Oil play under pressure

Oil services specialist Wood Group (LSE: WG) stunned the market this week after announcing a massive hike in the full-year dividend despite persistent market difficulties.

Wood Group elected to raise the payment for 2015 by more than 10%, to 30.3 US cents per share, and the company expects to raise the reward by double-digit percentages again in 2016.

This comes despite chairman Ian Marchant advising that “the expectation of a lower-for-longer commodity price environment has prompted many global E&P customers to reassess capex and opex spending plans,” and that many commentators are predicting further spending reductions in 2016.

Wood Group has embarked on massive self-help measures in recent times to alleviate revenues pressures — the top line dipped 23% in 2015 to $5.9bn — and the firm cut 8,000 jobs last year alone. But this is unlikely to prevent earnings dipping again in 2016, and a 27% slide is currently anticipated by the City.

This isn’t expected to curtail dividend growth however, and an estimated payout of 30.9 cents yields a terrific 3.9%. Yet this falls short of Wood Group’s planned increases, and I believe even this figure could fall short should flailing oil prices prompt additional spending cutbacks for the months and years ahead.

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Centrica. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.