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One helpful way to chose among dividend stocks is by finding those with long histories of raising their dividend. Not only is this preferable to income investors, but it also indicates a history of good company performance.

Here we report eight “dividend champions,” companies that have consistently raised their dividend over the past 25 years. These companies also have seen bullish trends in the number of shares shorted, seeing sharp decreases month-over-month. (Note that all companies have greater than a 1% dividend yield.)

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

Use this list as a starting-off point for your own analysis. List sorted by decrease in shares shorted as a percent of share float.

1. National Fuel Gas Co. (NYSE:NFG): Gas Utilities Industry. Market cap of $5.57B. Dividend yield at 2.05%. Shares shorted have decreased from 2.13M shares to 1.12M shares month-over-month, a change representing 1.25% of the company's 80.52M share float. The stock has gained 49.62% over the last year.

2. V.F. Corporation (NYSE:VFC): Textile Clothing Industry. Market cap of $10.27B. Dividend yield at 2.68%. Shares shorted have decreased from 4.16M shares to 3.63M shares month-over-month, a change representing 0.61% of the company's 87.25M share float. The stock has gained 31.02% over the last year.

3. The Valspar Corporation (NYSE:VAL): General Building Materials Industry. Market cap of $3.47B. Dividend yield at 1.99%. Shares shorted have decreased from 3.80M shares to 3.33M shares month-over-month, a change representing 0.54% of the company's 87.70M share float. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.24% over the last week.

4. Tennant Company (NYSE:TNC): Diversified Machinery Industry. Market cap of $671.05M. Dividend yield at 1.94%. Shares shorted have decreased from 683.10K shares to 595.16K shares month-over-month, a change representing 0.47% of the company's 18.88M share float. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 7.4% over the last week.

5. Sigma-Aldrich Corporation (NASDAQ:SIAL): Specialty Chemicals Industry. Market cap of $8.14B. Dividend yield at 1.08%. Shares shorted have decreased from 3.83M shares to 3.28M shares month-over-month, a change representing 0.45% of the company's 121.50M share float. The stock has gained 35.85% over the last year.

6. Community Trust Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:CTBI): Regional Banks Industry. Market cap of $407.75M. Dividend yield at 4.61%. Shares shorted have decreased from 462.70K shares to 414.89K shares month-over-month, a change representing 0.38% of the company's 12.53M share float. The stock has gained 7.96% over the last year.

7. Lowe's Companies Inc. (NYSE:LOW): Home Improvement Stores Industry. Market cap of $29.78B. Dividend yield at 2.45%. Shares shorted have decreased from 13.29M shares to 9.54M shares month-over-month, a change representing 0.29% of the company's 1.30B share float. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.69% over the last week.

8. Sysco Corp. (NYSE:SYY): Food Wholesale Industry. Market cap of $18.01B. Dividend yield at 3.37%. Shares shorted have decreased from 18.56M shares to 16.89M shares month-over-month, a change representing 0.29% of the company's 582.24M share float. The stock has gained 8.39% over the last year.

Dividend champions sourced from DRiP Investing; short data sourced from Yahoo Finance; all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 8 Dividend Champions With Bullish Short Trends