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What is the primary reason you invest in dividend stocks? For me, it is a means to build a growing income that can be relied on during retirement. One of the beauties of dividend investing is it provides you continuous feedback. As the years and decades go by, you can see your earnings steadily grow as you invest your money in dividend stocks, and as an added bonus, great dividend stocks will increase their dividend payments each year.

This week several companies provided their shareholders positive feedback with increased cash dividends:

Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) is engaged in the business of purchasing, distributing, and transporting natural gas in portions of Arizona, Nevada, and California. February 26th the company increased its quarterly dividend 5.3% to $0.25/share. The dividend is payable June 1, 2010, to shareholders of record as of May 17, 2010. The yield based on the new payout is 3.38%.

PPL Corp. (NYSE:PPL) is a holding company for PPL Utilities and also has holdings in the U.K. February 26th the company increased its quarterly dividend 1.4% to $0.35/share. The dividend is payable on April 1 to shareholders of record on March 10. The ex-dividend date is March 8. PPL is a Dividend Achiever and has raised its dividend for 11 consecutive years. The yield based on the new payout is 4.83%.

Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE:PNY) distributes natural gas to 1,016,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. February 26th the company raised its quarterly dividend 3.7% to $0.28/share. The dividend is payable April 15, 2010, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 25, 2010. The ex-dividend date is March 23. PNY is a Dividend Achiever and has raised its dividend for 32 consecutive years. The yield based on the new payout is 4.25%.

The Andersons (NASDAQ:ANDE) operates in the agriculture and transportation markets in the U.S. February 26th the company increased its quarterly dividend 3% to $0.09/share. The dividend is payable April 22, 2010, to shareholders of record on April 1, 2010. The ex-dividend date is March 30, 2010. The yield based on the new payout is 1.08%.

Hanover Insurance (NYSE:THG) offers insurance and financial products and services in the areas of risk management and asset management. February 26th the company raised its quarterly dividend 33% to $0.25/share. The dividend is payable March 22, 2010, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 8, 2010. The yield based on the new payout is 2.34%.

Fred’s (NASDAQ:FRED) operates about 650 company-owned general merchandise stores and markets goods and services to 24 franchised Fred’s stores in the southeastern U.S. February 26th the company raised its quarterly dividend 33% to $0.04/share. The dividend is payable on March 15, 2010, to shareholders of record as of March 5, 2010. The ex-dividend date is March 3, 2010. The yield based on the new payout is 1.50%.

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) focuses on developing products and services based on its advanced wireless broadband technology. March 1st the company raised its quarterly dividend to $0.19/share and announced that it will buy back up to $3 billion in common stock. The yield based on the new payout is 1.95%.

General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) is the world’s sixth largest military contractor and also one of the world’s biggest makers of corporate jets. March 3rd the company increased its quarterly dividend 10.58% to $0.42/share. The dividend is payable May 7, 2010, to shareholders of record on April 9. The ex-dividend date is April 7, 2010. The yield based on the new payout is 2.30%.

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) operates a chain of discount department stores, wholesale clubs, and combination discount stores and supermarkets; and is the largest retailer in North America. March 4th the company raised its annual dividend 11% to $1.21/share. The next quarterly dividend will be paid on April 5, 2010 to shareholders of record on March 12, 2010. The ex-dividend date is March 10. WMT is a Dividend Aristocrat and has raised its dividend for 36 consecutive years. The yield based on the new payout is 2.24%. [Analysis]

American Greetings (NYSE:AM-OLD) is the world’s largest publicly owned greeting card company with operations in more than 70 countries. March 4th the company raised its quarterly dividend by 17% to $0.14/share. The quarterly dividend will be paid on April 5, 2010 to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 23, 2010. The yield based on the new payout is 2.71%.

WGL Holdings (NYSE:WGL) provides natural gas service in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area and surrounding regions, including Maryland and Virginia. March 4th the company raised its quarterly dividend 2.7% to $0.3775/share. The new dividend is payable May 1, 2010, to shareholders of record on April 9, 2010. The ex-dividend date is April 7, 2010. The yield based on the new payout is 4.52%.

Not all dividend paying companies take pride in raising their dividends each year. For a list of stocks with a long string of consecutive cash dividend increases, see this list.

Full Disclosure: Long WMT. See a list of all my income holdings here.

Source: 11 Dividend Stocks Providing Positive Feedback