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With the market taking a breather from the pivot bottom in March, it may be worthwhile taking a look at dividend stocks with a strong track record of increasing dividends year in and year out regardless of what the economic conditions are. While other high yield options exist such as corporate bonds and muni bonds, the ability to increase dividends through thick and thin demonstrates that these outfits have the cash on hand and discipline to weather virtually any storm moving forward. With the prospect of future dividend increases annually, the underlying share prices are sure to follow since investors won't allow such performance to go unnoticed for long.

In order to provide a meaningful list of considerations, I sought out stocks with the following criteria:

  • Yields sufficiently high (4.0%) to exceed even modest inflationary increase from 2009
  • Increased dividends annually for at least the past 10 years
  • All tradable on US exchanges

Yield-Symbol--Company--Years Increased

7.7 CTL CenturyLink Inc. 35

7.5 UHT Universal Health Realty Trust 22

7.1 NNN National Retail Properties 19

6.8 ORI Old Republic Int'l 27

6.6 O Realty Income Corp. 15

6.5 TEG Integrys Energy Group 51

6.4 PRK Park National Corp. 20

6.3 PBI Pitney Bowes Inc. 27

6.3 WRE Washington REIT 38

6.0 PGN Progress Energy 21

6.0 HCP HCP Inc. 23

6.0 CINF Cincinnati Financial 49

6.0 MCY Mercury General Corp. 22

6.0 UBSI United Bankshares Inc. 36

6.0 T AT&T Inc. 26

5.9 CRRC Courier Corp. 15

5.7 AJG Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. 23

5.5 VVC Vectren Corp. 50

5.5 LLY Eli Lilly & Company 42

5.5 OTCQX:HARL Harleysville Savings 22

5.4 EGP EastGroup Properties 16

5.4 WASH Washington Trust Bancorp 16

5.4 VLY Valley National Bancorp 18

5.3 BKH Black Hills Corp. 39

5.2 ED Consolidated Edison 35

5.1 LEG Leggett & Platt Inc. 38

4.9 ESS Essex Property Trust 15

4.9 CTBI Community Trust Banc. 28

4.8 BWL.A Bowl America Class A 38

4.6 ATO Atmos Energy 22

4.6 CBU Community Bank System 16

4.4 WGL WGL Holdings Inc. 33

4.2 GPC Genuine Parts Co. 53

4.2 NC NACCO Industries 24

4.1 MGEE MGE Energy Inc. 34

4.1 UVV Universal Corp. 39

4.1 HGIC Harleysville Group 21

4.1 MSEX Middlesex Water Co. 36

4.0 PAYX Paychex Inc. 19

4.0 PNY Piedmont Natural Gas 31

4.0 RPM RPM International Inc. 36

Other interesting opportunities for high yield that aren't generally covered in the mainstream outlets include business development companies and currency flex CDs that would appreciate substantially in the face of a US Dollar crisis. However, in the absence of any further crisis, hyper-inflation or other economic maladies (the recent win in Massachusetts tempering health care cost concerns certainly helped the US Dollar last week), buying tried and true dividend increasers is a relatively conservative yet historically successful strategy in contrast to more conventional strategies.

Disclosure: No position in any of the aforementioned stocks at time of publication.