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. Already, a handful of companies (such as Nike (NYSE:NKE) and South Jersey Industries (NYSE:SJI)) have declared dividend increases to take place in December and others have set higher payouts in the first quarter of 2011. (Most notably, Hormel Foods (NYSE:HRL) announced a 21.43% increase in its quarterly rate, from 21 cents to 25.5 cents per share, marking its 45th straight year of increases.) Based on last year's announcements, I'm still expecting the following companies to announce dividend increases in the month of December (with number of consecutive years, current quarterly rate per share, and the ex-dividend dates of last year's increases).
Dividend Champions (25 or more years):
Becton Dickinson & Co. (NYSE:BDX) 37 years, 37 cents, 12/10/09
Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN) 29 years, 22 cents, 12/29/09
Nucor Corp. (NYSE:NUE) 37 years, 36 cents, 12/29/09
Valspar Corp. (NYSE:VAL) 29 years, 16 cents, 12/29/09
Investors Real Estate Trust (NASDAQ:IRET) 39 years, 17.15 cents, 12/30/09
Dividend Contenders (10-24 years):
C.H. Robinson Worldwide (NASDAQ:CHRW) 13 years, 25 cents, 12/2/09
Citizens Holding Company (NASDAQ:CIZN) 10 years, 21 cents, 12/11/09
Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) 18 years, 15.5 cents, 12/11/09
Stryker Corp. (NYSE:SYK) 17 years, 15 cents, 12/28/09
Lincoln Electric Holdings (NASDAQ:LECO) 15 years, 28 cents, 12/29/09
McCormick & Company (NYSE:MKC) 24 years, 26 cents, 12/29/09
York Water Co. (NASDAQ:YORW) 13 years, 12.8 cents, 12/29/09
Erie Indemnity Company (NASDAQ:ERIE) 20 years, 48 cents, 12/31/09
Dividend Challengers (5-9 years):
Landauer Inc. (NYSE:LDR) 7 years, 53.8 cents, 12/9/09
J&J Snack Foods Corp. (NASDAQ:JJSF) 6 years, 10.75 cents, 12/11/09
Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. (NYSE:AXS) 8 years, 21 cents, 12/29/09
Edison International (NYSE:EIX) 7 years, 31.5 cents, 12/29/09
Notably, the increase by McCormick would promote the company from Contender to Champion status.
Obviously, not all of these companies meet the strict standards of some investors, but they may be appropriate for portfolio diversification. As always, potential investors should do more research before committing funds.
Disclosure: Author owns HRL, BDX, BEN, ECL, MKC, and EIX.