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In the southern U.S. where I live, there has been some controversy over harvesting forests of hardwoods and reseeding them with pines. Growing hardwoods is very similar to investing in dividend stocks. What you plant or invest in today will not yield much for years to come. That is not to say progress is not seen. It is just slow and deliberate. To grow hardwoods it takes great foresight and commitment to the process. The small investments we make in quality dividend stocks each month won't yield large payments in the near term. It will take time for the payments to grow and compound, but they will.

Below are several companies planting the seeds for future yield by increasing their cash dividends:

1. The Williams Companies, Inc. (NYSE:WMB) operates as an energy infrastructure company in the United States. On Jan. 17, the company increased its dividend 4.2% to $0.33875 on the company's stock. The stock is payable March 25, 2013, to holders of record at the close of business on March 8. The yield based on the new payout is 4.0%.

2. BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) is a publicly owned investment manager. The firm primarily provides its services to institutional, intermediary, and individual investors. On Jan. 17, the company increased its quarterly dividend 12% to $1.68 per share. The dividend is payable March 25, 2013, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 7, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 2.9%.

3. ONEOK, Inc. (NYSE:OKE), a diversified energy company, engages in the gathering, processing, storage, and transportation of natural gas and natural gas liquids in the United States. On Jan. 16, the company increased its quarterly dividend 9%, to $0.36 per share. The dividend is payable Feb. 14, 2013, to shareholders of record at the close of business on Jan. 31, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 3.1%.

4. El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. (NYSE:EPB) engages in the interstate storage and transportation of natural gas in the United States. On Jan. 16, the partnership increased it quarterly distribution 5% to $0.61 per unit. The distribution is payable Feb. 14, 2013, to unitholders of record as of Jan. 31, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 6.1%.

5. Omega Healthcare Investors, Inc. (NYSE:OHI) operates as a real estate investment trust (REIT) investing in healthcare facilities, principally long-term healthcare facilities in the United States. On Jan. 16, the company increased its quarterly dividend 2.3% to $0.45 per share. The dividend is payable on Feb. 15, 2013, to stockholders of record as of the close of business on Jan. 31, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 7.3%.

6. Kinder Morgan, Inc. (NYSE:KMI) owns and operates energy transportation and storage assets in the United States and Canada. On Jan. 16, the company increased its quarterly dividend 19% to $0.37 per share. The dividend is payable on Feb. 15, 2013, to shareholders of record as of Jan. 31, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 4.0%.

7. Enterprise Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBTC) operates as the holding company for Enterprise Bank and Trust Company, a trust company and state chartered commercial bank that provides banking and other financial services. On Jan. 15, the company increased its quarterly dividend 4.5% to $0.115 per share. The dividend is payable March 1, 2013, to shareholders of record as of Feb. 8, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 2.6%.

8. Calumet Specialty Products Partners, L.P. (NASDAQ:CLMT) produces and sells specialty hydrocarbon products in North America. On Jan. 14, the partnership increased its quarterly distribution 4.8% to $0.65 per unit. The distribution is payable Feb. 14, 2013, to holders of record of such units at the close of business on Feb. 4, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 8.0%.

9. Mercantile Bank Corporation (NASDAQ:MBWM) operates as the bank holding company for Mercantile Bank of Michigan that provides banking services to small- to medium-sized businesses, individuals, and governmental units. On Jan. 14, the company increased its quarterly dividend 11% to $0.10 per share. The dividend is payable March 8, 2013, to holders of record as of Feb. 8, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 2.3%.

10. Packaging Corporation of America (NYSE:PKG) produces and sells containerboard and corrugated products in the United States. On Jan. 14, the company increased its quarterly dividend 25% to $0.3125 per share. The dividend is payable on April 15, 2013, to shareholders of record as of March 15, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 3.2%.

11. Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE:EPD) provides midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs), crude oil, refined products, and petrochemicals in the United States and internationally. On Jan. 14, the company increased its quarterly distribution 2.4% to $0.66 per common unit. The distribution is payable on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, to unitholders of record as of the close of business on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 4.9%.

12. Alliant Energy Corporation (NYSE:LNT), a utility holding company, provides regulated electricity and natural gas services to residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the Midwest region of the United States. On Jan. 11, the company increased its quarterly dividend 4% to $0.47 per share. The dividend is payable on Feb. 15, 2013, to shareholders of record on close of business on Jan. 31, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 4.1%.

Selecting stocks with increasing dividends is critical for an income growth strategy. The above list contains stocks that recently raised their dividends; it is not a list of recommend buys. As always, due diligence should be performed before buying or selling any stock. For a list of stocks with a long string of consecutive cash dividend increases, see this list.

Disclosure: Long OHI in my High-Yield Portfolio. See a list of all my dividend growth holdings here.

Source: 12 Dividend Stocks Growing Their Yield