Halliburton Company (HAL), Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI), American Electric Power Company, Inc. (AEP): Three Energy Companies Open Their Wallets Wider to Shareholders

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Halliburton CompanyThere is no shortage of research that points to the fact that companies that pay a dividend outperform non-payers. That same research will point out that those companies that can grow their payout are even more likely to outperform. With that as a backdrop, let's take a look at three energy companies that recently opened up their wallets.

Serving oilfields yields great returns Oil-field service company, Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) earlier this year boosted its dividend by 39%. It also announced that it plans to lock dividend payments in at 15%-20% of its net income going forward. That big boost has pumped the company's yield to 1.25%.

The dividend boost is just part of the story here, as Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) began a systematic share repurchase program under its authorized $1.7 billion buyback plan. Along with earnings, the company reported that it had already bought back 1.2 million shares for $50 million. Since it started buying back shares in 2006, Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) has returned $3.3 billion to shareholders by repurchasing 97 million shares.

Despite on-going Macondo litigation from the BP oil spill, the company has a rock solid balance sheet. Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL)'s confidence in maintaining this dividend policy is buoyed by peer-leading results, and expectations of continued growth both in North America and internationally. If you take look at these two together, Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) has a long runway of future outperformance ahead of it.

Keeping it in the family Last week, the Kinder Morgan Inc (NYSE:KMI) family of companies including Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (NYSE:KMP) and El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. (NYSE:EPB), all announced distribution hikes. Kinder Morgan Inc (NYSE:KMI) boosted its dividend by 19% over last year's first quarter payout based on strong results from Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (NYSE:KMP), with some help from El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. (NYSE:EPB). Those two partnerships announced year-over-year payout increases of 8% and 22%, respectively.

Don't expect these pay raises to stop anytime soon. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (NYSE:KMP) has an organic growth pipeline of more than $12 billion in projects to keep it busy over the next five years, while El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. (NYSE:EPB) has a number of drop-down opportunities from Kinder Morgan Inc (NYSE:KMI), as well as the potential to participate in the LNG export market. As these projects come online, they'll drive further distribution growth across the family.

It's electric While some of its peers in the utility space are slashing payoutsAmerican Electric Power Company, Inc. (NYSE:AEP) actually hiked its dividend by 4.3% this quarter. CEO Nicholas Akins noted that, "This change reflects our continued commitment to increase shareholder value and achieve payout ratios that are in line with our regulated peers." Commitment is one thing, but it's the company's growing assets that are really driving the increased payout.

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