Many investors buy blue chip shares such as Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) and Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) for their fully franked dividends.

While historical dividend data can be useful when conducting your background analysis of a company, ultimately what really matters is the dividends you, as a shareholder, receive in the future.

So although the historic pay-out can be instructive, as we will see in a moment, it can also overstate what investors can reasonably expect in the future.

Consider this

For investors contemplating acquiring shares in Woolworths or Wesfarmers today, the outlook for dividend payments in financial year (FY) 2017 is lower compared to the dividends actually received in FY 2015.

Due to the well reported problems facing Woolworths’ supermarket profit margins and the slump in the coal market which has affected Wesfarmers’ profitability, both companies are forecast (according to data supplied by CommSec) to pay FY 2017 dividends that will be lower than the dividends paid in FY 2015.

Importantly however, FY 2017 dividends for both companies are forecast to be above the dividends paid in FY 2016.

Here’s what to expect

Wesfarmers is expected to pay dividends totalling 210 cents per share (cps) in respect of the 2017 financial year. With the share price of $41 this implies a fully franked yield of 5.1%.

Meanwhile, Woolworths is forecast to pay dividends totalling 98.5 cps. With the supermarket owner’s share price at $21.60, this implies a yield of 4.6%.

If you are interested in quality dividend shares, then I would recommend this top dividend share instead. A strong yield and potential share price gains make this a great investment idea in my opinion.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.