The famous climax of George Orwell’s 1945 classic Animal Farm is revealed as “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”. In the story, the irony of this ‘commandment’ is so palpable you can taste it. Fortunately, the nature of Washington H. Soul Pattinson & Co Ltd (ASX: SOL) as a near-perfect dividend share isn’t as ironic. Yes, it’s true that no ASX dividend share (or any share, for that matter) can be perfect. Shares are always risky investments, forever subject to the whims of the market they trade on.
But as an ASX dividend share, it’s hard to argue with Soul Patts’ record. Soul Patts is an industrial conglomerate. Even though it started life as a humble chain of pharmacies back in the 1800s, today, it looks very different. This company has made a name for itself as an investor in its own right. Soul Patts owns a large stable (or portfolio) of ASX shares itself. Not in small quantities either.
The company owns a 25.3% stake in TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPG). It owns a 43.9% share of Brickworks Ltd (ASX: BKW). Throw in 50% of New Hope Corporation Limited (ASX: NHC). And a 22.6% stake in Clover Corporation Limited (ASX: CLV). It also owns 100% of Round Oak Minerals (a copper, zinc and gold miner) and 100% of Pitt Capital Partners (a corporate advisory firm). That’s amongst many other listed and non-listed investments that would take too long to get into today.
Soul Patts: An ASX dividend aristocrat
Needless to say, Soul Patts has a diversified asset base. But what’s this got to do with dividends? Well, everything, as it turns out. This earnings base is so durable that Soul Patts has the distinction of being able to boast the ASX’s longest-running streak of annual dividend increases. Not ‘steady or increasing’, just increasing.
Yes, Soul Patts has increased its annual dividend every single year since 2000. No other ASX company can claim that record, period.
Here’s what that looks like:
As a dividend investor, a staircase like that is a beautiful sight. And let’s remember what this really means. Soul Patts’ business was strong enough to support increased dividend payments during the tech-wreck of the early 2000s, the global financial crisis of 2008/09, and (of course) the coronavirus pandemic.
The bad news for investors is that the current Soul Patts share price is pretty close to its all-time high of late ($30.84). At the current share price of $30.36 (at the time of writing), Soul Patts’ trailing dividend yield is sitting at 1.98%, fully franked. The markets can be fickle, but they will still usually make you pay up for quality. No shares are perfect, but Soul Patts’ dividend record is certainly more perfect than all the others.
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Sebastian Bowen owns shares of Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Clover Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Brickworks and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.