Essential Utilities, Inc. (WTRG), formerly Aqua America (WTR) will raise its quarterly dividend by another 7 percent to $0.2682 per share in 2021. This follows similar dividend increases by the water utility in each of the past four years.
The next dividend is payable September 1, 2021 to all shareholders of record on August 13, 2021. A new annualized dividend rate of $1.07 per share yields 2.3% at a stock price of $47. This marks the 31st dividend increase in the past 30 years, and the company has paid a consecutive quarterly cash dividend for more than 75 years. Following the increase, the annualized dividend rate will be $1.0728 per share. The company’s targeted dividend payout ratio continues to be 60 to 65% of net income.
“We are proud of our commitment to providing safe and reliable access to natural resources while continuing our long history of paying consistent and growing dividends,” said Essential Chairman and CEO Christopher Franklin. “Our focus on operational excellence, investment in infrastructure, protecting the environment, serving our customers and delivering value to our shareholders is evidenced by this increase, which marks 30 consecutive years of dividend growth.”
The average annual dividend hike is 7.0 percent over the last five years and Essential Utilities currently pays an estimated annual dividend amount of $264 million to shareholders.
Essential Utilities, Inc., formerly Aqua America, Inc., is the holding company for regulated utilities providing water or wastewater services to people in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana and Virginia. In addition, the company’s market-based activities are conducted through Aqua Infrastructure, LLC and Aqua Resources, Inc. Aqua Infrastructure provides non-utility raw water supply services for firms in the natural gas drilling industry. Aqua Resources provides water service through operating and maintenance contracts with a municipal authority and another party close to our utility companies’ service territory; and offers, through a third-party, water and sewer line protection solutions and repair services to households. The company has paid a dividend to shareholders every year since at least 1945.