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Investing in dividend stocks is a long-term strategy. Frequent buying and selling of dividend stocks can significantly increase your expenses and taxes, thus lowering your returns. A growing dividend is a strong indication of a company's increasing intrinsic value. Great companies that increase dividends tend to have rising share prices over time. Holding only first-rate businesses protects your dividend streams and helps ensure you'll also get steady price appreciation.

Below are six companies building future returns with higher cash dividends:

W. P. Carey Inc. (NYSE:WPC) is an independent equity real estate investment trust. The firm also provides long-term sale-leaseback and build-to-suit financing for companies. On March 14, the company increased its quarterly dividend 24% to $0.82 per share. The dividend is payable April 15, 2013, to shareholders of record as of March 28, 2013. This marks W. P. Carey's 48th consecutive dividend increase. The yield based on the new payout is 5.1%.

Realty Income Corporation (NYSE:O) engages in the acquisition and ownership of commercial retail real estate properties in the United States. The company leases its retail properties primarily to regional and national retail chain store operators. On March 13, the company increased its monthly dividend 0.2% to $0.1809167 per share. The dividend is payable April 15, 2013, to shareholders of record as of April 1, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 4.9%.

General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) manufactures and markets branded consumer foods worldwide. The company also supplies branded and unbranded food products to the foodservice and commercial baking industries. On March 12, the company increased its quarterly dividend 15% to $0.38 per share. The dividend is payable Aug. 1 to shareholders of record July 10, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 3.3%.

Orchids Paper Products Company (NYSEMKT:TIS) engages in the manufacture and sale of various private label tissue products for the consumer market. Its products include paper towels, bathroom tissue, and paper napkins. On March 11, the company increased its quarterly dividend 20% to $0.30 per share. The dividend is payable on March 29, 2013, to stockholders of record at the close of business on March 19, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 5.0%.

CapLease, Inc. (NYSE:LSE) operates as a real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on financing and investing in commercial real estate that is net leased primarily to single tenants with investment grade or near investment grade credit ratings. On March 11, the company increased its quarterly dividend 3% to $0.0775 per share. The dividend is payable on April 15, 2013, to stockholders of record as of April 4, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 5.0%.

Taubman Centers, Inc. (NYSE:TCO) operates as a real estate investment trust. As of June 30, 2005, the company owned a 63% managing general partner's interest in The Taubman Realty Group Limited Partnership. On March 8, the company increased its quarterly dividend 8.1% to $0.50 per share. The dividend is payable March 29, 2013, to shareholders of record on March 18, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 2.6%.

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 O in my Dividend Growth portfolio. See a list of all my dividend growth holdings here.

Source: 6 Dividend Stocks Building Superior Long-Term Returns