These shares have been growing dividends for decades. I’d buy!

Our writer considers the merits for his portfolio of buying two shares with a track record of growing dividends.

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The appeal of dividend income is one reason I invest in shares. But something I find even more attractive than a share with a good dividend is a share with a good dividend — that gets even better over time! That is why I pay attention to companies that seem committed to growing dividends over time.

That is sometimes known as a progressive dividend policy. I like such a policy because not only could it boost my passive income streams, it also suggests that a company’s management has confidence in its business outlook.

But I say “seem committed” because in reality nobody knows what will come next for a company’s dividends. Even a long history of growing dividends is no guarantee that a payout will keep moving up. It might even be slashed – exactly what happened at Imperial Brands several years ago.

Here are a couple of companies that have been increasing their dividends each year for decades. I would consider buying them for my portfolio because I reckon they might keep lifting their payouts in the future.

Cranswick

The meat and food producer Cranswick (LSE: CWK) has been on a tear lately. Consider last year as an example. Revenues were the highest ever. So were profits. So was the dividend.

Despite that, the Cranswick share price has lost over a fifth of its value in the past year. That has pushed the dividend yield up to 2.4%.

Cranswick’s growing dividend is not a new phenomenon. It has raised its annual dividend for 32 years in a row. Nor was the increase last year just tokenistic. At 8%, it was suitably meaty. Over the past decade, the Cranswick dividend has had a compound annual growth rate of 9.7%. I find that highly impressive.

Can Cranswick keep growing dividends?

What excites me most about Cranswick is not its past but its future. As the results demonstrate, the company has developed a highly efficient, consistently profitable business model. I think that could support future dividend increases.

There are risks ahead, such as a lack of abattoir workers pushing up costs and hurting profits. But I would be happy to buy and hold Cranswick in my portfolio.

DCC

Another company I think might be able to extend its impressive record of growing dividends is the conglomerate DCC (LSE: DCC).

It grew its annual dividend in 2021 as it has done for 27 consecutive years. The increase was sizeable, at 10%. The dividend has grown at a compounded annual rate of 9% over the past decade (allowing for a switch from reporting in euros to pounds).

DCC has a collection of businesses that are highly cash generative. Free cash flow last year jumped to £688m. Paying dividends did not even use up a quarter of that cash. So the company is generating a lot of money it can invest in its healthcare and technology divisions. Both recorded double-digit earnings growth last year.

The core energy business also grew profits, but only modestly. A declining demand for gas in some markets is a risk to both revenues and profits at DCC. But I think its mixture of businesses positions the firm well for a changing world. I think it can keep growing dividends and would consider buying it for my portfolio.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be considered so you should consider taking independent financial advice.

Christopher Ruane owns shares in Imperial Brands. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Imperial Brands. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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