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It was only a few months ago that many experts declared dividend investing dead, after almost all financial companies in the US cut or eliminated their distributions to shareholders. In recent months there has been a slow but steady trend of many companies showing their confidence in the economic rebound by raising distributions. Over the past week several dividend payers announced that their boards of directors have approved increases in cash dividends they send out to their stockholders quarterly. Especially bullish was the fact that most of the companies were established dividend payers with long histories of consistent dividend increases.

The companies which raised distributions are listed below:

Nucor Corporation (NUE), engages in the manufacture and sale of steel and steel products in North America, increased its quarterly dividend by 2.9% to 36 cents per share. Nucor Corporation is a dividend achiever, which has increased its quarterly dividend for thirty-six years in a row. The stock currently yields 3.20%. (analysis)

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. (KMP) announced its preliminary projections for next year, stating that it expects KMP to declare cash distributions of $4.40 per unit for 2010, a 4.8 percent increase over its 2009 budget target of $4.20 per unit. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. is a leading pipeline transportation and energy storage company in North America. KMP owns an interest in or operates more than 28,000 miles of pipelines and 170 terminals. The company is a dividend achiever, which has increased its quarterly dividend for thirteen years in a row. The stock currently yields 7.40%. (analysis)

Enbridge Inc. (ENB), which engages in the transportation and distribution of crude oil and natural gas primarily in Canada and the United States, increased its quarterly dividend by 15% to 42.5 cents per share. Enbridge Inc. is an international dividend achiever, which has increased its quarterly dividend in each of the past fifteen years. The stock currently yields 3.20%.

New Jersey Resources (NJR), which provides retail and wholesale energy services in two segments, Natural Gas Distribution and Energy Services, increased its quarterly dividend by 9.7% to 34 cents per share. New Jersey Resources is a dividend achiever, which has increased its dividend in each of the last twelve years and has paid quarterly dividends since 1952. The stock currently yields 3.40%.

Universal Health Realty Income Trust (UHT), which is a real-estate investment trust which invests in health care and human service related facilities, including acute care hospitals, behavioral healthcare facilities, rehabilitation hospitals, sub-acute facilities, surgery centers, childcare centers, and medical office buildings, increased its quarterly dividend from 59.5 cents to 60 cents per share. Universal Health Realty Income Trust is a dividend achiever, which has increased its quarterly dividend for twenty-two consecutive years. The stock currently yields 7.90%.

Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc. (LECO), which manufactures and resells welding and cutting products worldwide, increased its quarterly dividend by 3.7% to 28 cents per share. Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc. is a dividend achiever, which has increased its quarterly dividend for over fourteen years. The stock currently yields 2.00%.

Graco Inc. (GGG), which supplies technology and expertise for the management of fluids in both industrial and commercial applications, increased its quarterly dividend by 5% to 20 cents per share. Graco Inc. is a potential addition for the dividend achiever’s list, as it has increased its quarterly dividend in each of the past nine years. The stock currently yields 2.60%.

Ecolab Inc. (ECL), which develops and markets products and services for the hospitality, foodservice, healthcare, and light industrial markets in the United States and internationally, increased its quarterly dividend by 11% to 15.5 cents per share. Ecolab Inc. is a dividend achiever, which has increased its quarterly dividend in each of the past eighteen years. The stock currently yields 1.20%.

Comcast Corporation (CMCSA), which provides cable services in the United States, increased its quarterly dividend by 40% to 9.45 cents per share. Additionally, Comcast announced its intent to complete its $3.6 billion share repurchase authorization over the next 36 months. This is the second dividend increase for the cable giant, since it started paying dividends in 2008. The stock currently yields 2.30%.

OGE Energy Corp. (OGE), which operates as an energy and energy services provider offering physical delivery and related services for electricity and natural gas primarily in the south central United States, increased its quarterly dividend by 8% to 14 cents per share. This is the fourth annual dividend increase OGE Energy Corp since 2007. The stock currently yields 4.00%.

Cameco Corporation (CCJ), which operates as a nuclear energy company, increased its annual dividend by 17% to 28 cents per share. The stock currently yields 0.70%.

Hillenbrand, Inc. (HI), which manufactures, distributes, and sells funeral service products to licensed funeral directors operating licensed funeral homes, increased its quarterly dividend by 1.35% to 18.75 cents per share. This is the second consecutive dividend increase for Hillenbrand, Inc.. The stock currently yields 3.90%.

The Toro Company (TTC), which designs, manufactures, and markets turf maintenance equipment and precision irrigation systems to help customers worldwide care for golf courses, sports fields, public green spaces, commercial and residential properties, and agricultural fields, increased its quarterly dividend by 8% to 14 cents per share. The stock currently yields 1.50%.

An important prerequisite of dividend investing is selecting only the stocks which have solid underlying fundamentals which could support a growing distribution over time. In addition to that investors should try not to overpay for equities and should also diversify their holdings in order to protect their dividend income in the event of dividend cuts. That’s why further research of a promising dividend stock is a must, before adding it to your income portfolio.

Disclosure: Long KMR and NUE

Source: Eight Dividend Achievers Strike Back