Are British American Tobacco PLC, Legal & General Group Plc, Banco Santander SA And Taylor Wimpey plc The Hottest Dividend Stocks Available?

Today I am looking at a clutch of FTSE heavyweights primed to deliver excellent investor returns.

British American Tobacco

The tobacco sector has long been a haven for those seeking reliable dividend growth, making the likes of British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS) a sure-fire winner. More recently, however, a combination of crimped consumer spend and increasingly-hostile attitudes towards smoking has smacked cigarette sales, in turn denting the earnings visibility of tobacco manufacturers, a critical quality for dividend hunters.

But with British American Tobacco’s revenues-driving brands like Kent and Pall Mall helping the business make the most of recovering emerging markets, and moves into the e-cigarette sector lighting a fire under its earnings profile, I reckon the London company is a concrete pick for those seeking lucrative dividends in the years ahead. Indeed, for 2015 and 2016 British American Tobacco is anticipated to deliver payouts of 156.9p and 161.7p per share respectively, creating mammoth yields of 4.4% and 4.6%.

Legal & General Group

Underpinned by its drive into the lucrative overseas markets like the US and Asia, I believe that financial products at Legal & General (LSE: LGEN) should continue flying off the shelves, a promising omen for income seekers. On top of this, the company’s fleet-footedness has already seen it traverse the impact of many regulatory and demographic changes, most notably from the UK’s pension reforms back in March, helping it to keep earnings — and crucially for its dividend profile, cash reserves — ticking steadily upwards.

Like British American Tobacco, Legal & General has been a dependable pick for those seeking exceptional dividend growth for many years, and is expected to lift last year’s 11.25p per share reward to 13.3p in 2015, and again to 14.5p next year. As a consequence the life insurance leviathan carries heart-stopping yields of 5.2% and 5.7% for 2016 and 2016 correspondingly.

Banco Santander

At first glance Banco Santander (LSE: BNC) may not appear to be the most logical dividend candidate on the market, the bank having decided in January to slash the dividend to 20 euro cents per share this year in order to reinforce the balance sheet. But with these measures — combined with an earlier rights issue — having shored up Santander’s finances, I expect dividends to start chugging higher once again.

Don’t get me wrong; it may take some time for dividends to reach levels around 60 cents seen in recent years. But with terrific emerging market exposure expected to underpin huge earnings growth from here on in, I fully expect payments to take off beyond the current period. In the meantime 2015’s proposed dividend yields a decent-if-unspectacular 3.1%.

Taylor Wimpey

I bought into housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW) late last year on the back of its mammoth dividend prospects, and believe the business will remain a lucrative pick for many years to come. The number of homes coming onto the market remains weak as homebuyers refuse to put their properties up for sale, while builders like Taylor Wimpey simply cannot meet insatiable demand — mortgage approvals hit their highest for 14 months in June at 42,530, the British Banking Association said this week.

This housing shortage is not going to disappear any time soon, and so I expect house prices — and with it earnings at the likes of Taylor Wimpey — to keep heading skywards. Indeed, for 2015 the construction play is expected to chuck out a dividend of 9.2p per share, yielding a terrific 4.9%. And this reading moves to 5.4% for 2016 amid estimates of a 10.3p payment.

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