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Investors who plan to live off their investments in retirement need reliability and consistency of investment returns. Investors who subscribed to the traditional expectations of ten percent annual total returns learned the hard way that volatility in investment results is something that they have to accept. Total return is comprised of price gains and dividend income. What few advisers tell their clients these days is that there is one component of investment returns which is stable, reliable and consistent. This dividend portion of total returns is typically not as volatile as equity prices, which makes it an ideal fit for a successful retirement strategy.

Just because a company pays dividends, however, doesn’t automatically make it a good investment. A company has to have some competitive advantages, which allow it to grow earnings, translating into higher dividends down the road. Few companies can afford to grow dividends for more than several consecutive years. Companies that can do this should be regularly monitored and screened against an objective set of criteria in order to weed out the weakest links. As a result I regularly highlight stocks which have announced dividend increases over the preceding week. The companies which approved dividend hikes include:

Sysco Corporation (NYSE:SYY), through its subsidiaries, markets and distributes a range of food and related products primarily to the foodservice industry in the United States. The company raised its quarterly dividend by 4% to 26 cents/share. This was the forty-first consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend champion. Yield: 3.60% (analysis)

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADP) provides technology-based outsourcing solutions to employers, and vehicle retailers and manufacturers. It operates in three segments: Employer Services, Professional Employer Organization Services, and Dealer Services. The company raised its quarterly dividend by 6% to 36 cents/share. This was the 36th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend aristocrat. Yield: 3.20% (analysis)

MDU Resources Group Inc. (NYSE:MDU) operates as a natural resource company in the United States. The company provides electric retail, natural gas distribution, and natural gas transportation services. The company raised dividends by 3.20% to 16.25 cents/share. This dividend achiever has consistently raised distributions for 20 years in a row. Yield: 3.20%

Tennant Company (NYSE:TNC) engages in the design, manufacture, and marketing cleaning solutions worldwide. The company boosted its quarterly dividend by 21% from 14 cents to 17 cents/share. This marks the thirty-ninth consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend champion. Yield: 2%

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) designs, manufactures, and sells integrated circuits for computing and communications industries worldwide. The company raised its dividends by 15% to 18 cents/share. The world’s largest chip manufacturer has raised distributions for 8 years in a row. The stock yields 3.30%

AmerisourceBergen Corporation (NYSE:ABC), a pharmaceutical services company, provides drug distribution and related services to healthcare providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The company raised its quarterly distribution by 25% to 10 cents/share. Amerisource Bergen has raised distributions for six years in a row and currently yields 1.30%

Of the six dividend raisers listed above, Automatic Data Processing, MDU Resources and Sysco seem attractively priced at the moment. I would also start researching Intel in order to evaluate whether it would be a good fit for my dividend portfolio.

Disclosure: Long ADP and SYY

Source: Six Reliable Dividend Growth Stocks Raising Distributions