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In compiling the Dividend Champions list. 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.

After a Lull Come Many Increases

As expected, there are few dividend increases between mid-December and late January, at least according to the anniversary of their Ex-Dividend Dates, but that is soon to change. February and March feature plenty of increases, to be followed by many more in the second quarter, when most companies hold their annual shareholder meetings. The table below coincides with the usual "forward look" of about 11 weeks for this article. 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 Challengers (5-9 years):

Company

Ticker

No.

12/31

Div.

MR%

LY

Ann.

Name

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Inc.

Ex-Div

Div.

CMS Energy Corp.

(NYSE:CMS)

7

26.77

3.81

6.25

2/6/13

1.02

MarketAxess Holdings

(NASDAQ:MKTX)

5

66.93

0.78

18.18

2/12/13

0.52

CenterPoint Energy

(NYSE:CNP)

8

23.18

3.58

2.47

2/13/13

0.83

Dun & Bradstreet Corp.

(NYSE:DNB)

7

122.75

1.30

5.26

2/25/13

1.60

Brookfield Infrastructure

(NYSE:BIP)

6

39.22

4.39

14.67

2/26/13

1.72

Pardee Resource Co.

(OTCPK:PDER)

8

223.00

3.05

3.03

2/26/13

6.80

Finish Line Inc. (The)

(NASDAQ:FINL)

6

28.17

0.99

16.67

2/27/13

0.28

Lorillard Inc.

(NYSE:LO)

6

50.68

4.34

6.45

2/27/13

2.20

Coca-Cola Enterprises

(NYSE:CCE)

6

44.13

1.81

25.00

3/6/13

0.80

National Interstate Corp.

(NASDAQ:NATL)

9

23.00

1.91

10.00

3/6/13

0.44

Westar Energy

(NYSE:WR)

9

32.17

4.23

3.03

3/7/13

1.36

Mead Johnson Nutrition

(NYSE:MJN)

5

83.76

1.62

13.33

3/11/13

1.36

Triangle Capital Corp.

(NYSE:TCAP)

7

27.65

7.81

1.89

3/11/13

2.16

Digital Realty Trust

(NYSE:DLR)

9

49.12

6.35

6.85

3/13/13

3.12

NorthWestern Corp.

(NYSE:NWE)

9

43.32

3.51

2.70

3/13/13

1.52

Equity LifeStyle Properties

(NYSE:ELS)

9

36.23

2.76

14.29

3/26/13

1.00

Flowserve Corp.

(NYSE:FLS)

7

78.83

0.71

16.67

3/26/13

0.56

MR=Most Recent; LY=Last Year

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.

Coming Soon

At some point in late February or early March, a new wave of Challengers should push the CCC listings to more than 500 companies, and that wave should continue throughout 2014, as more companies reach five consecutive years of dividend growth.

Every Picture Tells a Story

As a bonus, I'm inserting one of Chuck Carnevale's F.A.S.T. Graphs below, highlighting one of the companies listed above. When the stock's price line has moved into the green area, it indicates that the stock is undervalued in relation to its earnings...or, in the case of a REIT, or Real Estate Investment Trust, its Funds From Operations, or FFO. I'm attaching the chart below.

(click to enlarge)

Source: Dividend Challengers: 17 Increases Expected By March 31