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On The Hunt For Defensive Darlings? Look No Further Than British American Tobacco plc, Cobham plc, National Grid plc & Taylor Wimpey plc!

Today I am outlining the investment case of four FTSE-listed payout powerhouses.

British American Tobacco

Thanks to the defensive nature of its operations, British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS) has long been a favoured pick for those seeking dependable dividend growth year after year. While the attack by regulators on cigarette vendors and users is picking up pace, I expect the terrific progress of the firm’s ‘Global Drive Brands’ like Dunhill and Rothmans — combined with growing consumer spending power in emerging markets — to keep sales ticking comfortably higher.

This view is shared by the City, and steady earnings growth is expected to drive the dividend from 148.1p per share last year to 156.1p in 2015 and 163.4p in the following period. As a consequence British American Tobacco sports market-mashing yields of 4.6% and 4.8% for 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Cobham

As the economic recovery in the West continues to click through the gears, I believe the sales outlook at planebuilder Cobham (LSE: COB) is at its strongest point for years. The business saw revenues gallop 26% higher during January-June, to £1.05bn, driven by its shrewd purchase of US-based Aeroflex last autumn. Meanwhile, a 32% surge in orders during the period provides plenty of earnings visibility further out.

With government defence budgets now in a much healthier state, Cobham is expected to see the bottom line flip higher again following two years of bottom-line drops. Consequently the Surrey firm is anticipated to raise last year’s dividend of 10.65p per share to 11.5p in the current period, and again to 12.1p for 2016. These figures produce meaty yields of 4% and 4.3%.

National Grid

The utilities sector has long been described as the ultimate defensive play thanks to the essential nature of their services — who doesn’t need electricity, gas and water, after all? But while the likes of Thames Water and Centrica are facing increasing pressure to slash their charges, network operator National Grid (LSE: NG) does not face the same problems thanks to its vertically-integrated model.

Naturally this more secure revenues outlook makes it a safer selection for those seeking dependable dividend growth, in my opinion. With this in mind, the City expects National Grid to shell out a payment of 44p per share in 2015, up from 42.87p last year and yielding a mammoth 5.2%. And this reading rises to 5.4% for 2016 amid forecasts of a 45.3p reward.

Taylor Wimpey

I piled into housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW) last year thanks to the supportive dynamics of the UK housing industry. Fears over slowing house price growth have been doing the rounds since January, but with Britain failing to put up new homesteads at the rate at which they are required, house prices are only likely to head northwards.

Indeed, a prolonged period of low interest rates, combined with the effects of improving wage growth and employment levels, is likely to play into the hands of Taylor Wimpey and its peers well into the future. Broker expectations of double-digit earnings expansion this year and next feed through to anticipated dividends of 9.3p and 10.6p per share for 2015 and 2016 correspondingly. As a result the construction play boasts handsome yields of 4.7% for this year and 5.3% for 2016.

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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.