The goal of dividend investing is to find and buy dividend growth stocks that will continue to raise their dividends. To pay and raise its dividend a company must generate sufficient free cash flow. However, it is not enough to just generate the cash, it has to be available for dividend payments. Many companies generate significant free cash flow, but often that cash is already spoken for in the form of debt obligations.
Prior to the 2008-2009 downturn many companies took on enormous levels of debt, usually for one of these two reasons: