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In compiling the Dividend Champions list (found here), I get to see which companies are nearing the anniversaries of their previous dividend increases. Since most of these firms raise their payout about the same time every year, I can say with some confidence that they are likely to do so again. I have modified the Expected Increase series to reflect a more SA-friendly format by separating the Champions (25 or more years of higher dividends), Contenders (10-24 years), and Challengers (5-9 years) into distinct groupings, so please click the above links to view the other articles.

The Pace Quickens

As usually happens this time of year, dividend increases come at a faster pace during February and March, heading into Annual Shareholder meetings in April, May, and June, when companies like to give their owners reason to be happy. The table below coincides with the usual "forward look" of about 11 weeks for this article.

Based on last year's announcements, I'm expecting the following companies to announce dividend increases between now and the anniversary of the Ex-Dividend Date of their previous increase:

Dividend Challengers (5-9 years):

Company

Ticker

No.

1/31

Div.

MR%

LY

Ann.

Name

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Inc.

Ex-Div

Div.

Westar Energy

(NYSE:WR)

8

30.07

4.39

3.13

3/7/12

1.32

Constellation Software Inc.

(OTCPK:CNSWF)

6

120.70

3.31

100.00

3/8/12

4.00

Silgan Holdings Inc.

(NASDAQ:SLGN)

9

42.90

1.12

9.09

3/8/12

0.48

Sempra Energy

(NYSE:SRE)

9

75.05

3.20

25.00

3/22/12

2.40

Deere & Company

(NYSE:DE)

9

94.06

1.96

12.20

3/28/12

1.84

Equity LifeStyle Properties

(NYSE:ELS)

8

71.60

2.44

16.67

3/28/12

1.75

Flowserve Corp.

(NYSE:FLS)

6

156.77

0.92

12.50

3/28/12

1.44

Raytheon Company

(NYSE:RTN)

8

52.68

3.80

16.28

4/2/12

2.00

Gap Inc.

(NYSE:GPS)

8

32.68

1.53

11.11

4/3/12

0.50

Torchmark Corp.

(NYSE:TMK)

7

55.71

1.08

25.00

4/4/12

0.60

G&K Services Inc.

(NASDAQ:GK)

7

40.04

1.95

50.00

4/11/12

0.78

Teekay LNG Partners LP

(NYSE:TGP)

8

39.92

6.76

7.14

4/19/12

2.70

Teekay Offshore Partners

(NYSE:TOO)

6

27.55

7.44

2.50

4/19/12

2.05

MR=Most Recent

In addition, a number of companies are expected to announce their fifth straight year of higher dividends, qualifying them as the newest Challengers:

Company

Symbol

Ex-Div

Fred's Inc.

(NASDAQ:FRED)

2/28/12

Reliance Steel & Aluminum

(NYSE:RS)

2/29/12

Duff & Phelps Corp.

(NYSE:DUF)

3/2/12

Sturm Ruger & Company

(NYSE:RGR)

3/7/12

Mead Johnson Nutrition Co.

(NYSE:MJN)

3/14/12

Western Union Company

(NYSE:WU)

3/14/12

Warwick Valley Telephone

(WVT)

3/16/12

Stewart Enterprises Inc.

(NASDAQ:STEI)

4/10/12

Not all of the above companies will meet the strict standards of every investor, but some may be appropriate for portfolio diversification. Potential investors should do more research before committing funds.

Every Picture Tells a Story

As a bonus, I'm inserting one of Chuck Carnevale's F.A.S.T. Graphs below, highlighting one of the companies listed above. When the stock's price line has moved into the green area, it indicates that the stock is undervalued in relation to its earnings. I'm attaching the chart below.

(click to enlarge)

Source: Dividend Challengers: 13 Increases Expected In The Next 11 Weeks