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Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), The Southern Company (SO), Emerson Electric Co. (EMR): Don’t Be Afraid, Go Direct

About 36% of the company’s 2012 top line was derived from emerging markets. Management’s intent is to increase that to 40% by 2015. This should help push the company’s growth rates higher. Of course, it still earns a notable percentage of revenues from developed markets. That’s why revenues fell during the 2007 to 2009 recession. Management, however, used that tough stretch to sell non-core assets and augment core areas with bolt-on acquisitions. No single move was material, but the long-term focus shows the strength of the corner office.

Emerson’s direct stock purchase plan has a $250 minimum and requires a $15 set up fee. Additional purchases can be for as little as $50 and don’t incur any fees.

A Big Utility

The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) is one of the largest and most widely held utilities in the country. Unlike the other two names above, Southern’s around 4.6% dividend yield should be of interest to income investors. Moreover, it has increased the dividend annually for over a decade. The utility sell off has made these shares a good option again, though patient investors might want to wait for a yield in the 5% to 6% range.

The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) earns most of its revenue from its regulated operations in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. The company has generally good relationships with its regulators and operates in growing markets. Organic growth should be enough to support slow, but steady, top- and bottom-line growth and dividend increases.

Over the long-term, Southern is building a nuclear facility and a coal gasification plant. These should support growth by keep fuel costs down and allowing the company to ask regulators for more rate increases. That won’t turn The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) into a growth company, but it should ensure that annual dividend increases keep coming.

Southern’s direct stock purchase plan has a minimum of $250 with a one-time set up fee of $10. Additional purchases have a minimum of $25 but incur no fees.

Avoiding the Street

Direct stock purchase plans are perfect for investors who want to avoid the hype and complex loyalties of Wall Street. Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE:EMR), and The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) are all large, solid companies offering cheap plans that can keep you away from the hyper drama but keep you investing in your future. For more information on one of these companies and other great dividend stocks, check the link below.

Reuben Brewer has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE:EMR). and The Southern Company (NYSE:SO).

The article Don’t Be Afraid, Go Direct originally appeared on

Reuben is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network — entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

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