Should You Pile Into Dividend Picks Centrica PLC, Persimmon plc & Michael Page International plc?

Today I am looking at the prospects for three FTSE-listed dividend favourites.

Running out of power

Energy giant Centrica’s (LSE: CNA) position as a dependable dividend stock has taken a whack in recent times as problems across both its upstream and downstream operations have mounted. The London firm has seen its shares tank by a fifth during the past 12 months alone, and values stuck their cheapest since early 2004 just this week.

And I do not expect Centrica’s value to improve any time soon as market conditions remain difficult. Subscriber numbers at British Gas continue to erode as householders switch to the growing number of promotion-heavy independent suppliers. And the collapsing crude price bodes ill for the company’s Centrica Energy division, too.

Given this backdrop the City expects Centrica to cut the full-year dividend for the second year running in 2015, to 12p per share. And although forecasts suggest a payout recovery in the current period, to 12.4p — a figure that yields a stunning 5.9% — I believe investors should give this estimate short shrift given the company’s worsening earnings outlook and hulking debt pile.

Safe as houses

I am far more optimistic concerning the dividend picture over at housebuilding giant Persimmon (LSE: PSN), however. Despite recent government plans to embark on a massive housebuilding scheme, Britain’s shocking housing crisis is not likely to ease any time soon as rampant demand looks sure to keep outpacing supply.

The number crunchers expect Persimmon to lift a projected dividend of 100.7p per share for 2015 to 105.1p in the current year, creating a smashing yield of 5.4%. The construction play has a terrific record of generating double-digit earnings growth, and as home values continue their relentless march higher I expect shareholder rewards at Persimmon to follow suit.

Recruit a dividend star

At face value recruitment specialists Michael Page (LSE: MPI) may not be the most exciting dividend selection out there. A projected payment of 16p per share for 2016 creates a chunky yield of 3.2%, although this figure lags the FTSE 100 average around 3.5% by some distance.

But long-term investors should take note of Michael Page’s ultra-progressive dividend policy, in my opinion. If realised, this year’s projection would mark a solid upgrade from last year’s predicted 11.9p per share reward. Indeed, the prospect of further terrific earnings growth certainly bodes well for storming dividend expansion in the years ahead.

Michael Page announced today that gross profit for 2015 rose 4.2% to £532.8m, shrugging off the impact of unfavourable currency movements and slowing recruitment activity in the UK more recently.

The latter is to be expected as the EU referendum looms and macroeconomic jitters weigh, of course, and I believe Michael Page’s strong global reach should help it to ride out these troubles to post stellar returns in 2016 and beyond.

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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.