Don’t ignore these under-the-radar dividend champions

The FTSE 100’s top line growth may not have been impressive over the past few years but the index’s average 3.69% dividend yield has done its part to keep investors happy. But, income investors willing to dig around will find there are a handful of great companies with yields well above this average.

Long history of success

With analysts forecasting a whopping 4.5% dividend this year, subprime lender Provident Financial (LSE: PFG) is certainly one solid option. Provident provides credit cards, consumer loans and vehicle loans to people with substandard credit histories or low incomes. This has been a booming business even as the economy has strengthened since the end of the recession. Since 2011 earnings per share have increased 70% as Provident’s core businesses improved and it branched out into new ventures.

Dividends have risen alongside earnings, increasing 74% over the same period, and last year totaled 120.10p. These payouts are relatively safe as well, as dividend cover has increased from 1.26 times to 1.35 times since 2011.

And, while income investors may be scared off by the thought of investing in a subprime lender, I find Provident’s long history of success very reassuring. The company actually grew throughout the Financial Crisis as more people fell into the subprime creditor category And, after the crisis Provident has retained a cautious outlook, keeping a sane level of leverage and branching out into the safer credit card market.

With an accomplished management team, relatively defensive business and proven ability to grow profitability throughout the business cycle, Provident’s 4.5% dividend yield is well worth a second look for income investors.

Market leader

Another safe haven in a normally cyclical industry has been replacement window manufacturer and seller Safestyle UK (LSE: SFE). A solid history of annual dividend increases and growing earnings have analysts penciling in a 4.5% dividend yield for Safestyle this year.

Safestyle is a relative newcomer to the market, only going public in late 2013. But, since then earnings per share have risen a solid 24% and dividends by a full 85%. Last year’s dividend was covered 1.8 times by earnings, which should reassure investors as to its safety.

There’s certainly potential for earnings and dividend growth in the future as Safestyle consolidates a fractured market. The company is currently the market leader with 10% control and is looking to increase this in coming years by expanding into the South East and investing in new manufacturing facilities.

This plan is working well and over the past six months revenue grew 12.8% and EBITDA by 8.6% year-on-year. The company’s balance sheet also improved over the period with net cash increasing to £23.6m. For a company with a market cap of around £200m, this is a very good amount of cash to hold and provides significant downside protection should the housing market face headwinds.

With earnings growing as the company expands into new geographies and doubles-down on a successful trading strategy, I find Safestyle’s healthy balance sheet and reliable 4.5% yielding dividend quite attractive.

One stock with an even more impressive history of shareholder returns than Provident or Safestyle is the Motley Fool's Top Income Share of 2016. This hidden dividend winner has increased dividends over 400% in the past four years alone.

With earnings still covering dividends a whopping 3 times over, there's plenty of room for future dividend growth in the future as well.

To discover why the Fool's analysts are so bullish on this income star, simply follow this link for your free, no obligation copy of their report.

Ian Pierce has no position in any shares mentioned. 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.