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A person's character is determined by how they behave when no one else is looking and during difficult times. In much the same way, we can learn a lot about a company's management when they face adversity. One metric I look at closely during a downturn is cash generation relative to earnings. The ability of a company to grow its dividend throughout the economic cycle is highly dependent on the management's ability to generate cash in a downturn.

Below are several select companies with management confident enough to increase their cash dividends:

1. National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) operates as a diversified energy company in the United States. On June 13, the company increased its quarterly dividend 2.7% to $0.375 per share. The dividend is payable July 15, 2013, to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 28, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 2.5%.

2. Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (ARE), a real estate investment trust (REIT), engages in the ownership, operation, management, development, acquisition, and redevelopment of properties for the life sciences industry. On June 13, the company increased its quarterly dividend 8% to $0.65 per share. The dividend is payable July 15, 2013, to shareholders of record on June 28, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 3.9%.

3. Target Corp. (TGT) operates general merchandise stores in the United States. On June 12, the company increased its quarterly dividend 19% to $0.43 per share. The dividend is payable Sept. 10, 2013, to shareholders of record at the close of business on Aug. 21, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 2.5%.

4. Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT) manufactures and sells construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives worldwide. On June 12, the company increased its quarterly dividend 15% to $0.60 per share. The dividend is payable Aug. 20, 2013, to stockholders of record at the close of business on July 22, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 2.9%.

5. Oil-Dri Corporation of America (ODC) engages in the mining, development, manufacturing, and marketing of sorbent products in the United States and internationally. On June 11, the company increased its quarterly dividend 6% to $0.19 per share. The dividend is payable Aug. 30, 2013, to stockholders of record at the close of business on Aug. 16, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 2.8%.

6. Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, AG (AWH) provides property and casualty insurance and reinsurance solutions in Bermuda, the United States, Europe, Hong Kong, Labuan, and Singapore. On June 7, the company increased its quarterly dividend 33% to $0.50 per share. The dividend is payable on July 3, 2013, to shareholders of record on June 25, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 2.1%.

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: No position in the aforementioned securities. See a list of all my dividend growth holdings here.

Source: 6 CEOs Showing Confidence With Increased Dividends