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I have begun preparing the 2011 edition of my Top 40 Dividend Stocks series, which I will release in January. One of my favorite sources every year is David Fish’s “Dividend Champions” document. David has made many improvements this year, including reducing the number of consecutive years of increased dividend payouts down to 5 years for a stock to appear in the document. (Stocks with 25-year+ streaks are called “Champions,” those with 10-24 year streaks are “Contenders,” and those with 5-10 year streaks are “Challengers.”)

In doing my research this year, I was struck by how many banks and other financial companies never cut or froze their dividend during the financial crisis. Common wisdom is that most banks suffered near-death experiences during 2007-2009, and therefore slashed or eliminated their dividends, but in fact many did not. Most of the biggest banks did, but there are plenty of local and regional banks that never stopped increasing their dividends every year.

“Financial” companies are not limited to banks, so I have included insurance and consumer financial services companies. I did not include REITs nor business-to-business companies. I also eliminated companies that have not increased their dividend since 2008, on the theory that there is almost no chance, this late in the year, that they will continue their streak of increasing dividend payouts every year with a late-2010 increase.

Here are the banks and other financial-sector companies that increased their dividends every year through the financial crisis and are still doing so. The table is sorted by the final column, Current Yield, with highest yielders first.

Company

Ticker

Streak (Years)

Current Yield %

W. P. Carey

WPC

13

7.2

NB&T Financial Group

NBTF

9

6.2

Cincinnati Financial

CINF

50

6.0

Mercury General

MCY

23

6.0

United Bankshares

UBSI

36

5.2

Hudson City Bancorp

HCBK

12

5.2

Cheviot Financial

CHEV

7

5.2

First Capital

FCAP

10

5.1

People’s United Financial

PBCT

17

4.9

Landmark Bancorp

LARK

9

4.8

Community Trust Bancorp

CTBI

30

4.6

Harleysville Group

HGIC

24

4.5

Arrow Financial

AROW

17

4.4

Citizens Holding

CIZN

10

4.4

Community Bank System

CBU

17

4.3

Ohio Valley Banc

OVBC

15

4.2

Norwood Financial

NWFL

12

3.9

Southside Bancshares

SBSI

16

3.8

National Bankshares

NKSH

11

3.8

Auburn National Bancorp

AUBN

9

3.8

Enterprise Bancorp

EBTC

6

3.8

Tompkins Financial

TMP

24

3.7

1st Source

SRCE

20

3.7

Erie Indemnity

ERIE

20

3.7

Cullen/Frost Bankers

CFR

17

3.5

First Financial

THFF

22

3.2

Republic Bancorp KY

RBCAA

12

2.9

Westamerica Bancorp

WABC

19

2.8

Chubb

CB

45

2.7

PartnerRe Limited

PRE

17

2.7

Axis Capital Holdings

AXS

8

2.7

Commerce Bancshares

CBSH

42

2.6

Alterra Capital Holdings

LTE

10

2.6

Eaton Vance

EV

29

2.5

AFLAC

AFL

28

2.5

T. Rowe Price

TROW

23

2.5

ACE Limited

ACE

18

2.5

BancFirst OK

BANF

16

2.5

UMB Financial

UMBF

19

2.3

StanCorp Financial Group

SFG

12

2.3

American Financial Group

AFG

6

2.3

BOK Financial

BOKF

6

2.3

Hanover Insurance Group

THG

6

2.3

New Alliance Bancshares

NAl

5

2.3

RLI

RLI

35

2.2

Prosperity Bancshares

PRSP

12

2.2

HCC Insurance Holdings

HCC

13

2.1

AmTrust Financial Services

AFSI

5

2.1

Bank of Marin Bancorp

BMRC

6

1.9

RenaissanceRe Holdings

RNR

15

1.8

Ameriprise Financial

AMP

6

1.7

Brown & Brown

BRO

16

1.6

Bank of the Ozarks

OZRK

12

1.6

SEI Investments

SEIC

18

1.1

Franklin Resources

BEN

29

0.9

Wesco Financial

WSC

38

0.5

As always, this compilation should not be viewed as a recommendation of any stock, just as a source of information and ideas. Do your own due diligence before investing in anything.

Disclosure: No positions

Source: The Surprising Number of Financial Stocks That Maintained Their Dividend