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In a recent article, we discussed how some stocks benefited from the market uptrend since March 2009 to raise their dividend payouts and provide steady returns to their investors. Many of these high growth stocks have also increased their dividend yields in the last 3 years and now they are more attractive alternatives for defensive investors. As we are concerned about the upcoming inflationary environment, we believe investors should--in near future--seek some protection and pick defensive stocks with high dividend yields.

Below, we compiled another list of 22 large-cap US stocks with high dividend yields and a high dividend growth in the last 3 years. The market data are sourced from Fidelity. All companies in this list didn’t cut their dividends in any single year since the end of 2008. These stocks have market capitalizations above $8 billion, 12-month dividend yield of at least 3%, and 1-year dividend growth of at least 10%.

Dividend Yield

3-Year Div. Growth

52-Week Return

Philip Morris International

PM

3.83%

18.52%

51.89%

Nextera Energy Inc.

NEE

3.83%

23.60%

22.49%

Lockheed Martin Corp.

LMT

3.71%

31.58%

12.99%

Abbott Laboratories

ABT

3.65%

33.33%

16.62%

Waste Management Inc.

WM

3.65%

25.93%

23.49%

Sempra Energy

SRE

3.63%

37.14%

16.81%

Heinz Co.

HNZ

3.60%

15.66%

27.86%

ConocoPhilips

COP

3.57%

40.43%

58.69%

Conagra Foods Inc.

CAG

3.56%

21.05%

14.97%

Clorox Co.

CLX

3.56%

19.57%

12.16%

Raytheon Corp.

RTN

3.45%

53.57%

6.43%

Johnson & Johnson

JNJ

3.43%

23.91%

16.72%

Procter & Gamble

PG

3.36%

31.25%

9.34%

Campbell Soup Co.

CPB

3.36%

16.00%

-0.40%

Thomson Reuters Corp.

TRI

3.35%

14.81%

8.21%

Mattel Inc.

MAT

3.35%

22.67%

36.63%

Avon Products Inc.

AVP

3.31%

15.00%

8.91%

Genuine Parts Co.

GPC

3.31%

15.38%

42.82%

Intel Corporation

INTC

3.27%

29.43%

17.62%

General Mills Inc.

GIS

3.26%

30.23%

8.04%

Chevron Corp.

CVX

3.03%

20.00%

56.63%

Public Storage

PSA

3.00%

72.73%

33.86%

AVERAGE

27.81%

22.85%

Since the end of 2008, these 22 large-cap U.S. stocks didn’t diminish their dividend payouts in any single year and their average 3-year dividend growth is 27.81%. In the last 52-week period, the average return of these 22 large-cap stocks was 22.85%. Only one stock in this group – CPB – had a negative return in the past 12 months, whereas 16 stocks provided double digit returns in the same period.

Here are the 10 large-cap US stocks in our list with the highest dividend yields:

1. Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM): Philip Morris International is a large multinational company selling cigarettes worldwide. PM has a 3.83% dividend yield and returned 51.89% to its investors during the past 12 months. PM raised its dividend per share from 54 cents to 64 cents in the past 3 years. The stock has a 3-Year Dividend Growth of 18.52%. PM has a market cap of $118.74B and P/E ratio of 16.37. Tom Russo had more than $500 Million in PM at the end of March 2011. Phill Gross and Michael Lowenstein are also among PM investors.

2. Nextera Energy Inc. (NYSE:NEE): Nextera Energy Inc. is an energy company generating and distributing renewable energy in the United States and Canada. NEE has a 3.83% dividend yield and returned 22.49% during the past 12 months. NEE increased its dividend per share from 44.5 cents to 55 cents in the past 3 years, having a 3-year dividend growth of 23.60%. NEE has a market cap of $24.25B and P/E ratio of 14.29. Phill Gross holds the largest NEE position among the 300+ funds we are tracking. (See Phill Gross’ other top holdings)

3. Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT): Lockheed Martin Corp. is a US company operating in aerospace, defense, security and advanced technology industries worldwide. LMT has a 3.71% dividend yield and gained 12.99% during the past 12 months. LMT paid 75 cents of dividend per share for the second quarter of this year; a 31.58% increase from 57 cents of dividend per share for the first quarter of 2009. The stock has a market cap of $28.12B and P/E ratio of 11.05. Both Jean-Marie Eveillard's First Eagle and John Shapiro's Chieftain Capital hold more than $200 Million of LMT.

4. Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT): Abbott Laboratories is a global pharmaceutical company. ABT has a 3.65% dividend yield and gained 16.62% during the past 12 months. ABT increased its dividend per share from 36 cents to 48 cents in the past 3 years, having a 3-year dividend growth of 33.33%. The stock has a market cap of $81.79B and P/E Ratio of 18.33. Ken Fisher had more than $400 Million in ABT at the end of March 2011.

5. Waste Management Inc. (NYSE:WM): Waste Management Inc. is a US company providing waste management and comprehensive waste removal services. WM has a 3.65% dividend yield and returned 23.49% during the past 12 months. WM increased its dividend per share from 27 cents to 34 cents in the past 3 years. The stock has a 3-year dividend growth of 25.93%. WM has a market cap of $17.67B and P/E ratio of 18.64. Boykin Curry's Eagle Capital had more than $200 Million in WM at the end of March 2011.

6. Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE): Sempra Energy is a US energy company supplying energy products and services worldwide. SRE has a 3.63% dividend yield and gained 16.81% during the past 12 months. SRE paid 48 cents of dividend per share for the second quarter of this year; a 37.14% increase from 35 cents of dividend per share for the last quarter of 2008. The stock has a market cap of $12.75B and P/E ratio of 14.53. Phill Gross’ Adage Capital holds more than $80 Million of SRE.

7. Heinz Co. (HNZ): Heinz Co. is an US food company providing processed foods worldwide. HNZ has a 3.60% dividend yield and gained 27.86% during the past 12 months. HNZ increased its dividend per share from 41.5 cents to 48 cents in the past 3 years, having a 3-year dividend growth of 15.66%. The stock has a market cap of $17.14B and P/E Ratio of 17.41. Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners hold nearly $100 Million of HNZ. Robert J.Caruso and Jim Simons are also prominent HNZ investors.

8. ConocoPhilips (NYSE:COP): ConocoPhillips is a global energy company that explores and supplies various energy products. COP has a 3.57% dividend yield and gained 58.69% during the past 12 months. COP paid 66 cents of dividend per share for the second quarter of this year; a 40.43% increase from 47 cents of dividend per share for the last quarter of 2008. The stock has a market cap of $106.28 and P/E ratio of 9.06. Warren Buffett had a massive holding in COP, having more than $2 Billion of the stock. (See Warren Buffett’s top stock holdings)

9. Conagra Foods Inc. (NYSE:CAG): Conagra Foods Inc. is a US company that supplies packaged foods to supermarkets and restaurants in the United States. CAG has a 3.56% dividend yield and returned 14.97% to its investors during the past 12 months. CAG raised its dividend per share from 19 cents to 23 cents in the past 3 years. The stock has a 3-Year Dividend Growth of 21.05%. CAG has a market cap of $10.55B and P/E ratio of 13.66. Ric Dillon’s Diamond Hill had more than $150 Million in CAG at the end of March 2011.

10. Clorox Co. (NYSE:CLX): Clorox Co. is a an multinational company that provides chemical and food products worldwide. CLX has a 3.56% dividend yield and gained 12.16% during the past 12 months. CLX raised its dividend per share from 46 cents to 55 cents in the past 3 years, having a 3-year dividend growth of 19.57%. CLX has also announced to raise its dividend to 60 cents for the next quarter. The stock has a market cap of $8.99B and P/E Ratio of 33.22. Carl Icahn’s Icahn Capital had $700 Million in CLX at the end of March (Check out Carl Icahn’s top stock picks here).

Disclosure: I am long PM.

Source: 22 Large Cap, High Yield Stocks With Strong Dividend Growth