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Are these the FTSE 100’s ‘safest’ dividend stocks?

Today I am looking at four FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE: UKX) stocks with dynamite dividend potential.

Electrify your stocks portfolio

Network operator National Grid (LSE: NG) is possibly the most secure selection out there for those seeking dependable dividend growth year after year.

Electricity is one of those modern-world commodities we simply can’t live without. And National Grid has a stranglehold on power provision in the UK — the network operator doesn’t face the same competitive pressures as suppliers like Centrica or SSE.

As such, it enjoys the sort of earnings visibility most companies can only dream of, making it an exceptional ‘stress-free’ stock for income chasers. And a dividend yield of 4% for the year to March 2017 makes mincemeat of the blue chip average of 3.5%.

The perfect pill

Unlike National Grid, AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) has been forced to trash its progressive dividend policy in recent years as patents expiring on key drugs have crushed earnings.

Still, a shareholder reward of 280 US cents per share locked for the past several years has created market-mashing yields. And the City expects dividends to remain at these levels until the close of 2017, creating a brilliant 4.4% yield.

The impact of further label losses is expected to keep earnings on the back foot right through to the end of next year, according to broker consensus.

Regardless, I believe AstraZeneca has the financial strength to meet these dividend projections until its pipeline of next-generation treatments can hit the shelves en masse in the coming years. Sales of new cancer battler Tagrisso came in at a brilliant $143m during January-June, for instance, and the Cambridge firm plans to pull plenty more revenue drivers out of the hat.

Safe as houses

Diversification is very much the name of the game for Bunzl (LSE: BNZL), a quality that has made it one of the Footsie’s most reliable earnings stocks for what now seems an age.

Bunzl supplies essential goods and services across a multitude of industries, and its presence can be found across supermarkets, warehouses, building sites, hospitals and all manner of other facilities across the globe.

This has protected earnings from turbulence in one or two sectors or territories and allowed Bunzl to lift the annual dividend for 23 years on the spin.

A dividend yield of 1.8% for 2016 may not set pulses racing. Still, I reckon Bunzl is one of the FTSE 100’s best bets for those seeking relentless dividend expansion.

Ring up a fortune

Despite the huge costs of its multibillion-pound Project Spring organic investment programme, Vodafone’s (LSE: VOD) ability to generate mind-boggling amounts of cash has enabled it to keep growing the dividend.

And while the telecoms play remains active on the M&A front, a winding down of infrastructure costs should provide Vodafone’s balance sheet with a welcome shot in the arm.

And investors can also take confidence from Vodafone’s improving sales outlook — organic service revenues advanced 2.2% during April-June as its European operations continued to improve and emerging market demand soared.

Vodafone sports a monster 5% yield for the period to March 2017. And I expect dividends to keep impressing in the years ahead as earnings flip higher.

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended AstraZeneca and 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.