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(Editors' Note: This article covers a micro-cap stock. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.)

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 look for the other articles, which I hope will be published about the same time.

Accelerated Dividends in the Spotlight

Again this month, we see some December anniversaries that represent "accelerated" payments - prompted by last year's tax-hike fears - that may appear as "delays," but will actually represent a return to a more normal schedule. The table below, which coincides with the usual "forward look" of about 11 weeks for this article, includes a special notation for those raises, the # symbol. For some of those companies, a "worst case" scenario would simply be that they move to the "overdue" list - temporarily - while they return to their normal first-quarter increase pattern. November has been a fairly active month for increase announcements, as indicated by the changing number of companies. Compared with last month's total of 79, the current group of 48 Champions, Contenders, and Challengers reflects the relatively small group of increases scheduled in January.

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 Contenders (10-24 years):

Company

Ticker

No.

10/31

Div.

MR%

LY

Ann.

Name

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Inc.

Ex-Div

Div.

Nike Inc.

(NKE)

10

75.76

1.11

16.67

12/6/12

0.84

South Jersey Industries

(SJI)

14

59.55

2.97

9.94

12/6/12

1.77

Vector Group Ltd.

(VGR)

15

16.17

9.42

5.00

12/6/12

1.52

First Keystone Corp.

(OTCQB:FKYS)

12

26.50

3.92

4.00

12/7/12

1.04

Laclede Group Inc.

(LG)

10

47.07

3.61

2.41

12/7/12

1.70

Farmers & Merchants

(OTCQB:FMCB)

15

409.00

3.03

3.33

12/10/12

12.40

First Financial Corp.

(THFF)

24

34.54

2.78

2.13

12/12/12

0.96

C.H. Robinson W'wide#

(CHRW)

16

59.74

2.34

6.06

12/13/12

1.40

JB Hunt Transport #

(JBHT)

10

75.03

0.80

7.14

12/13/12

0.60

Linear Technology #

(LLTC)

21

41.15

2.53

4.00

12/13/12

1.04

Ecolab Inc. #

(ECL)

21

106.00

0.87

15.00

12/14/12

0.92

Minden Bancorp Inc. #

(OTCQB:MDNB)

11

16.60

2.05

13.33

12/19/12

0.34

Roper Industries Inc. #

(ROP)

20

126.81

0.52

20.00

12/19/12

0.66

Bank of Utica #

(OTCQB:BKUT)

13

435.10

2.46

10.31

12/20/12

10.70

Lyons Bancorp Inc. #

(OTCQB:LYBC)

13

37.00

3.35

3.33

12/26/12

1.24

Axis Capital Holdings

(AXS)

11

47.42

2.11

4.17

12/27/12

1.00

Edison International

(EIX)

10

49.03

2.75

3.85

12/27/12

1.35

Stryker Corp.

(SYK)

20

73.86

1.44

24.71

12/27/12

1.06

York Water Company

(YORW)

16

20.71

2.67

3.52

12/27/12

0.55

Andersons Inc. (The)

(ANDE)

11

74.18

0.86

6.67

12/28/12

0.64

Royal Gold Inc.

(RGLD)

12

48.04

1.67

33.33

1/2/13

0.80

Urstadt Biddle Prop.

(UBA)

19

19.74

5.07

1.01

1/2/13

1.00

RGC Resources Inc.

(RGCO)

10

18.61

3.87

2.86

1/11/13

0.72

Graco Inc.

(GGG)

16

77.26

1.29

11.11

1/17/13

1.00

CVS Caremark

(CVS)

10

62.26

1.45

38.46

1/22/13

0.90

AptarGroup Inc.

(ATR)

20

64.16

1.56

13.64

1/28/13

1.00

Alliant Energy Corp.

(LNT)

10

52.22

3.60

4.44

1/29/13

1.88

MR=Most Recent; LY=Last Year; #=Accelerated Payment in 2012

Note that Vector Group may appear to be continuing to pay a dividend at the same 40¢-per-share rate as before, but has paid a 5% stock dividend since the previous cash payment, so its coming payment will actually represent an increase of that percentage. 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 usually insert one of Chuck Carnevale's F.A.S.T. Graphs below, highlighting one of the companies listed above. But I'm omitting that step this month due to a scarcity of stocks whose price line has moved into the green area, which indicates that the stock is undervalued in relation to its earnings.

Source: Dividend Contenders: 27 Increases Expected In The Next 11 Weeks