4 rock-solid ASX dividend shares to buy for 2021

The four ASX dividend shares in this article have proven to be reliable income options. One of the picks is Rural Funds Group (ASX:RFF).

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This article is about four ASX dividend shares that pay consistent payments to investors, even during difficult times:

Rural Funds Group (ASX: RFF)

Rural Funds is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns farmland across different agricultural sectors including cattle, almonds, macadamias, vineyards and cropping (sugar and cotton).

The REIT was actually one of the top FY21 picks by broker Bell Potter which liked the high-quality tenants and steadily-growing asset values of the farms.

Those farms are spread across a variety of states and climactic conditions for useful diversification.

The ASX dividend share aims to grow its distribution by 4% per annum. This is funded by contracted rental increases and productivity improvement investments at its farms.

At the current Rural Funds share price, it offers a FY21 distribution yield of 4.3%.

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

Soul Patts is one of the oldest listed businesses in the country. It has been listed in Australia since 1903. More than 40 employees have worked for the company for over 50 years. Five generations of the Pattinson family have served the company, as have three generations of the Dixson, Spence, Rowe and Letters families.

It's an investment conglomerate that has exposure to many sectors including telecommunications, resources, building products, pharmacies, agriculture, financial services and swimming schools.

Some of its holdings include the following ASX shares: TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPG), Clover Corporation Limited (ASX: CLV), Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ASX: API), Bki Investment Co Ltd (ASX: BKI), Milton Corporation Limited (ASX: MLT) and Palla Pharma Ltd (ASX: PAL).

The business aims to take long-term positions in the businesses that it invests in, often with a contrarian approach.

In terms of being a reliable ASX dividend share, it has increased its dividend every year for 20 years in a row. That's the longest growth record on the ASX.

Soul Patts pays for that dividend from the dividends and distributions received from its investments, after paying for its own operating expenses.

At the current Soul Patts share price it offers a grossed-up dividend yield of 2.8%.

Brickworks Limited (ASX: BKW)

Brickworks is one of the largest building products businesses in the country. It produces and sells a number of different products such as bricks, masonry, paving, precast and roofing. It's also the market-leading brickmaker in the northeast of the US.

The business hasn't cut its dividend for over 40 years, so it also has one of the longest dividend records. But it doesn't have the consecutive dividend growth streak like Soul Patts.

However, it is actually invested in Soul Patts shares. Brickworks owns 39.4% of Soul Patts, which provides Brickworks with a growing stream of dividends and the capital value is steadily climbing over time as well.

It's the Soul Patts dividends and the distributions from the joint venture (JV) property trust with Goodman Group (ASX: GMG) that entirely funds Brickworks' dividend.

This JV structure is based on Brickworks selling surplus operational land into the trust at market value and Goodman funding the infrastructure works, to created serviced land ready for development. Balancing payments may be required to ensure a fair contribution towards the value of the fully serviced land. Once a lease pre-commitment is secured, the serviced land can then be used as security, with debt funding used to cover the cost of constructing the facilities.

This property trust is currently building huge warehouses for Amazon and Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL) which, when completed, will see the trust's gross assets rise above $3 billion and the net rental distributions to Brickworks are expected to rise by more than 25%.

At the current Brickworks share price it offers a grossed-up dividend yield of 4.3%.

APA Group (ASX: APA)

APA owns a large network of 15,000km of natural gas pipelines around Australia with a presence in every mainland state and the Northern Territory. It also owns or has interests in gas storage facilities, gas-fired power stations and renewable energy generation (wind and solar farms). APA owns, or manages and operates, a portfolio of assets and delivers half the nation's natural gas usage.

This ASX dividend share funds its distributions from the operating cashflow produced by its assets. APA regularly announces new plans to grow its asset base further. It plans to build a new pipeline in WA and that will link up with its existing pipeline.

APA recently announced it is going to increase its interim distribution by 4.3%, bringing the current distribution to $0.51 per unit, which equates to a distribution yield of 5% at the current APA share price. It has increased its distribution every year for about a decade and a half.

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