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3 ASX companies that have raised their dividend in this bear market

Recently, there has been a wave of companies withdrawing guidance. With uncertainty surrounding the ASX and greater Australian economy due to COVID-19, many companies have decided to pull their previous earnings guidance.

Some companies, such as Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD), have even been cancelling or deferring dividend payments, with Corporate Travel announcing that it believes it would be prudent to defer the interim dividend previously scheduled for payment on Tuesday 14 April to Friday 2 October 2020. Of course it could still choose to cancel or postpone again if conditions have not improved and it needs the cash.

However, in contrast to this, many companies have announced that they will continue to pay a dividend, with some even increasing them. This will certainly allow some dividend investors and retirees to breathe easy. Especially after the RBA has slashed the cash rate to record lows, again, which is a record we seem to be breaking every few months.

Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Ltd (ASX: SOL)

The first company on the list will probably come to no surprise for many investors. Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co, or ‘Soul Patts’ has a vast history of paying dividends and has increased its dividend every year since 2000. That means it continued to do so even through the GFC. So it is probably no surprise that despite announcing a decline in profit yesterday, it still managed to reward shareholders with a 4.2% increase in its interim dividend.

Soul Patts is currently trading with a forward grossed-up dividend yield of 4.3%.

Rural Funds Group (ASX: RFF)

Another company that appears to be continuing as normal has been the agricultural REIT Rural Funds. Rural Funds appears to be in a strong position, as it leases its farmlands to high quality tenants within consumer staples.

On average, these lease agreements are long term in nature, which allows it to have greater predictability control over its revenue. In fact, while many companies are withdrawing guidance, just last week Rural Funds reaffirmed its guidance. This included its trademark 4% increase in dividend, which is to be paid on Thursday 30 April.

Rural Funds offers investors a forward unfranked yield of 5.5%.

Brickworks Limited (ASX: BKW)

Brickworks recently announced a decline in earnings per share of 37%. Following this, management noted significant uncertainty for Brickworks and the broader economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Brickworks announced the closure of 5 out of its 12 plants currently in operation in the US.

There is some good news however. Brickworks has continued to grow its dividend. It declared a 20 cents per share fully franked interim dividend. This represents a 5% increase from last year, giving it a grossed up forward yield of 5.6%.

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Motley Fool contributor Michael Tonon owns shares of Corporate Travel Management Limited, RURALFUNDS STAPLED, and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Corporate Travel Management Limited, RURALFUNDS STAPLED, and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Brickworks. 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 Scott Phillips.