Are Vodafone Group plc, Persimmon plc and Unilever plc the best dividend stocks out there?

Today I’m looking at three FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE: UKX) dividend stars.

Ring up stunning returns

With earnings back on the charge in its core European marketplaces, I reckon Vodafone (LSE: VOD) is a terrific selection for those seeking gigantic dividends in the near-term and beyond.

The company’s £19bn Project Spring organic investment scheme has transformed its fortunes on the continent, a factor that’s expected to finally push group earnings higher after three years of heavy dips. But Europe isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, with Vodafone also enjoying stunning demand from Asia, the Middle East and Africa thanks to galloping wealth levels in these ‘new’ regions.

But a backcloth of rising revenues isn’t the only cause for celebration for dividend chasers, with lower capex costs from this year onwards providing Vodafone’s balance sheet with a significant boost.

Sure, the telecoms titan is expected to keep the dividend on hold at 11.45p per share in the year to March 2017. But this figure still yields a mighty 5.3%. And Vodafone’s improving profits performance is expected to deliver an 11.6p reward next year, nudging the yield to 5.4%.

Build a fortune

Concerns over a possible Brexit on house prices have seen investor demand for Persimmon (LSE: PSN) dive in recent weeks. But the subsequent creation of colossal yields makes the business a hot bet for income chasers, in my opinion.

For 2016 the homebuilder is predicted to pay a 110p-per-share dividend, a figure that yields a smashing 5.6%. And the yield moves to 5.7% for next year thanks to a forecast 112.3p payout.

Of course a leave vote next week could have a huge impact on home values in the immediate term as first-time buyer activity moderates.

Still, in the long-term the profits outlook for Persimmon and its peers remains extremely strong. Britain’s insufficient housing stock is here to stay well into the future, while a relatively-robust domestic economy and favourable lending conditions should keep supporting buying power.

A secure selection

At face value Unilever (LSE: ULVR) may not appear an irresistible purchase for those seeking juicy dividends.

For 2016 the household goods maker is predicted to pay a dividend of 125.8 euro cents per share, yielding 3.1%. And for 2017, an anticipated 134-cent reward yields a decent-if-unspectacular 3.4%.

Both figures clearly lag the FTSE 100 forward average of 3.5%. But what Unilever lacks in big-yield clout, it more than makes up in security.

A cluster of previously-huge yielders like Rio Tinto, Barclays and Rolls-Royce have all been forced to cut dividends in recent times. But the terrific brand power of Unilever’s goods like Dove soap and Walls ice cream — not to mention ubiquity across established and emerging markets — provides it with an earnings outlook much stronger than many of its big-cap peers.

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