Leggett & Platt (LEG), Dividends Aristocrats and the Fiscal Cliff

November 8, 2012 3:43 PM EST
Leggett & Platt (NYSE: LEG), the multi-billion dollar behind-the-scenes maker of mattress springs, bed frames and other residential furnishings made headlines today. Not because they developed a new revolutionary pocketed coil, but because they announced plans to pay their dividend out early to avoid the dreaded fiscal cliff.

Leggett & Platt typically pays its fourth quarter dividend in January. However, this year it will be in December. "Given the significant pending increase of the federal tax rate on dividend income in 2013, the company opted to accelerate payment into December," the company said.

The fiscal cliff is the combination of the expiring Bush-era tax cuts and across-the-board spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs.

Taxes on dividends could rise sharply from their current 15% rate. Under President Obama's current tax proposal, taxes on dividends could rise to 25%-39.6%, depending on income.

Leggett & Platt is part of the S&P 500's Dividend Aristocrats with more than 30 consecutive annual dividend increases. The company currently pays out $0.29 per share quarterly, or $1.16 per share annually, giving it a dividend yield of 4.3%.

This move by Leggett & Platt could be followed by others Dividend Aristocrats that wish to save their shareholders cash this year, although what happens next year remains in the air.

Other companies on the prestigious S&P 500's Dividend Aristocrats list include:

AT&T Inc (NYSE: T)
Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT)
Air Products & Chemicals Inc (NYSE: APD)
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co (NYSE: ADM)
Automatic Data Processing (NYSE: ADP)
Bard, C.R. Inc (NYSE: BCR)
Becton, Dickinson & Co (NYSE: BDX)
Bemis Co Inc (NYSE: BMS)
Brown-Forman Corp B (NYSE: BF/B)
Chubb Corp (NYSE: CB)
Cincinnati Financial Corp (NYSE: CINF)
Cintas Corp (NYSE: CTAS)
Clorox Co (NYSE: CLX)
Coca-Cola Co (NYSE: KO)
Colgate-Palmolive Co (NYSE: CL)
Consolidated Edison Inc (NYSE: ED)
Dover Corp (NYSE: DOV)
Ecolab Inc (NYSE: ECL)
Emerson Electric Co (NYSE: EMR)
Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE: XOM)
Family Dollar Stores Inc (NYSE: FDO)
Franklin Resources Inc (NYSE: BEN)
Genuine Parts Co (NYSE: GPC)
Grainger, W.W. Inc (NYSE: GWW)
Hormel Foods Corp (NYSE: HRL)
Illinois Tool Works Inc (NYSE: ITW)
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)
Kimberly-Clark (NYSE: KMB)
Lowe's Cos Inc (NYSE: LOW)
McCormick & Co (NYSE: MKC)
McDonald's Corp (NYSE: MCD)
McGraw-Hill Cos Inc (NYSE: MHP)
Medtronic Inc (NYSE: MDT)
Nucor Corp (NYSE: NUE)
PPG Industries Inc PPG
PepsiCo Inc (NYSE: PEP)
Pitney Bowes Inc (NYSE: PBI)
Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG)
Sherwin-Williams Co (NYSE: SHW)
Sigma-Aldrich Corp (NYSE: SIAL)
Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE: SWK)
Sysco Corp (NYSE: SYY)
T Rowe Price Group Inc (NASDAQ: TROW)
Target Corp (NYSE: TGT)
Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT)
Walgreen Co (NYSE: WAG)

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