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Depending on your frame of reference, 10 years can be a long time, or just a flash. For some dividend investors, it's usually seen as a flash - the absolute minimum amount of years a company must consistently raise dividends before they are willing to buy in.

There's no defining reason for this number - 10 years is simply comfortable and round, and just feels more right than say, 9 years.

Still, a 10 year streak of raising dividends is a good yardstick with which to measure management's intentions. Anyone can raise a dividend for a year or two, but 10 years? That shows a commitment to increasing the income of your investors. A 10 year period is enough time for any company to hit at least a few bumps in the road. If they have continued to increase payouts, there's a good chance it's become part of the company's culture, and likely to continue.

Here are 30 companies that have all raised dividends for 9 consecutive years, and are on their way to a decade of dividend growth.

AGL Resources (AGL)

  • Current Price - $38.21
  • Current Yield - 4.7%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 2/2011, 9.8% increase to $0.45 quarterly

AGL is an energy services holding company whose principal business is the distribution of natural gas in six states: Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee and Virginia. As of December 31, 2010, the Company’s six utilities served approximately 2.3 million end-use customers.

Airgas Inc. (NYSE:ARG)

  • Current Price - $63.34
  • Current Yield - 1.8%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 1/2011, 16% increase to $0.29 quarterly

Airgas, Inc. through its subsidiaries, is a distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases (delivered in packaged or cylinder form), and hardgoods, such as welding equipment and supplies.

Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. (NASDAQ:ARLP)

  • Current Price - $69.34
  • Current Yield - 5.3%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 7/2011, 3.7% increase to $0.9225 quarterly

Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. is a limited partnership. The Company is a diversified producer and marketer of coal primarily to the United States utilities and industrial users. It operates nine underground mining complexes in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia.

Analog Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADI)

  • Current Price - $31.50
  • Current Yield - 3.2%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 5/2011, 14% increase to $0.25 quarterly

Analog Devices, Inc. designs, manufactures and markets analog, mixed-signal and digital signal processing integrated circuits (ICs) used in all types of electronic equipment.

The Andersons, Inc. (NASDAQ:ANDE)

  • Current Price - $39.06
  • Current Yield - 1.1%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 12/2010, 22% increase to $0.11 quarterly

The Andersons, Inc. is a diversified company with interests in the grain, ethanol and plant nutrient sectors of the United States agriculture, as well as in railcar leasing and repair, turf products production and general merchandise retailing.

Axis Capital Holdings Limited (NYSE:AXS)

  • Current Price - $29.37
  • Current Yield - 3.1%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 12/2010, 10% increase to $0.23 quarterly

Axis Capital Holdings Limited is a Bermuda-based holding company for the AXIS Group of Companies. The Company, through its various operating subsidiaries and branches, provides a range of insurance and reinsurance products to clients worldwide.

Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY)

  • Current Price - $25.52
  • Current Yield - 2.5%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 6/2011, 7% increase to $0.16 quarterly

Best Buy Co., Inc. is a multinational retailer of consumer electronics, home office products, entertainment products, appliances and related services.

Cass Information Systems (NASDAQ:CASS)

  • Current Price - $36.21
  • Current Yield - 1.8%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 10/2010, 14% increase to $0.16 quarterly

Cass Information Systems, Inc. is a provider of payment and information processing services to manufacturing, distribution and retail enterprises across the United States.

Deere and Co. (NYSE:DE)

  • Current Price - $72.66
  • Current Yield - 2.3%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 5/2011, 17% increase to $0.41 quarterly

Deere & Company, together with its subsidiaries (John Deere) operates in three business segments: agriculture and turf, construction and forestry and credit. The agriculture and turf segment manufactures and distributes a line of farm and turf equipment. The construction and forestry segment manufactures, distributes to dealers and sells a range of machines used in construction. The credit segment primarily finances sales and leases by John Deere dealers.

Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS)

  • Current Price - $37.51
  • Current Yield - 3%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 8/2010, 14% increase to $0.25 quarterly

Harris Corporation is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries.

Healthcare Services Group Inc. (NASDAQ:HCSG)

  • Current Price - $14.02
  • Current Yield - 4.5%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 7/2011, 4% increase to $0.16 quarterly

Healthcare Services Group, Inc. provides housekeeping, laundry, linen, facility maintenance and dietary services to the healthcare industry, including nursing homes, retirement complexes, rehabilitation centers and hospitals located throughout the United States.

Infinite Property and Casualty Corp. (NASDAQ:IPCC)

  • Current Price - $49.51
  • Current Yield - 1.5%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 2/2011, 28.6% increase to $0.18 quarterly

Infinity Property and Casualty Corporation provides personal automobile insurance with a concentration on nonstandard auto insurance. Infinity also writes standard and preferred personal auto insurance, mono-line commercial auto insurance and classic collector automobile insurance.

International Flavors and Fragrances (NYSE:IFF)

  • Current Price - $57.66
  • Current Yield - 2.2%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 7/2011, 15% increase to $0.31 quarterly

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. is a creator and manufacturer of flavor and fragrance products used by other manufacturers to impart or improve flavor or fragrance in a range of consumer products.

Landauer Inc. (NYSE:LDR)

  • Current Price - $52.95
  • Current Yield - 4.2%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 11/2010, 2.3% increase to $0.55 quarterly

Landauer, Inc. is a provider of technical and analytical services to determine occupational and environmental radiation exposure. The Company is domestic provider of outsourced medical physics services.

Lindsay Corporation (NYSE:LNN)

  • Current Price - $55.08
  • Current Yield - 0.7%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 7/2011, 6% increase to $0.09 quarterly

Lindsay Corporation iis a designer and manufacturer of self-propelled center pivot and lateral move irrigation systems, which are used in the agricultural industry to increase or stabilize crop production, while conserving water, energy, and labor.

MOCON Inc. (NASDAQ:MOCO)

  • Current Price - $15.15
  • Current Yield - 2.6%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 2/2011, 5% increase to $0.10 quarterly

MOCON, Inc. designs, manufactures, markets and services products and provides consulting services primarily in the measurement and analytical instrument and services markets. The Company’s products include instruments that detect, measure and monitor gases and chemical compounds.

National Instruments Corp. (NASDAQ:NATI)

  • Current Price - $23.69
  • Current Yield - 1.7%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 1/2011, 15% increase to $0.15 quarterly (note - there was also a 3-2 split, so the dividend is now $0.10 a quarter)

National Instruments Corporation is a supplier of products that engineers and scientists use in a range of industries. These industries consist of a diverse market for design, control and test applications.

Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE)

  • Current Price - $83.87
  • Current Yield - 1.5%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 11/2010, 15% increase to $0.31 quarterly

NIKE, Inc. is engaged in design, development and marketing of footwear, apparel, equipment and accessory products.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:OXY)

  • Current Price - $87.34
  • Current Yield - 2.1%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 2/2011, 21% increase to $0.46 quarterly

Occidental Petroleum Corporation is an energy company that operates in three segments: oil and gas segment, chemical segment, and midstream, marketing and other segment.

Oil Dri-Corporation of America
(NYSE:ODC)

  • Current Price - $20.37
  • Current Yield - 3.3%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 6/2011, 6.25% increase to $0.17 quarterly

Oil-Dri Corporation of America (Oil-Dri) is engaged in developing, manufacturing and marketing sorbent products. These include products such as kitty litter and animal feed binder.

Omega Healthcare Investors, Inc. (NYSE:OHI)

  • Current Price - $15.82
  • Current Yield - 10.1%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 7/2011, 5.3% increase to $0.40 quarterly

Omega Healthcare Investors, Inc. is a self-administered real estate investment trust, that invests in income-producing healthcare facilities, principally long-term care, facilities located throughout the United States.

ONEOK Inc. (NYSE:OKE)

  • Current Price - $63.70
  • Current Yield - 3.5%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 7/2011, 8% increase to $0.56 quarterly (note - this stock had a 2 - 1 split in 7/2011)

ONEOK, Inc. is a diversified energy company. The Company’s segments include ONEOK Partners, Distribution and Energy Services. As of December 31, 2010, the Company was the sole general partner and own 42.8% of ONEOK Partners, L.P.

PPL Corporation (NYSE:PPL)

  • Current Price - $26.56
  • Current Yield - 5.3%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 1/2010, 1.4% increase to $0.35 quarterly

PPL Corporation is an energy and utility holding company. Through subsidiaries, PPL generates electricity from power plants in the northeastern, northwestern and southeastern the United States.

Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM)

  • Current Price - $51.02
  • Current Yield - 1.7%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 3/2011, 13% increase to $0.215 quarterly

QUALCOMM Incorporated designs, manufactures and markets digital wireless telecommunications products and services based on its code division multiple access (CDMA) technology and other technologies.

Republic Services, Inc. (NYSE:RSG)

  • Current Price - $26.83
  • Current Yield - 3.3%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 7/2011, 10% increase to $0.22 quarterly

Republic Services, Inc. is a provider of services in the domestic non-hazardous solid waste industry. The Company provides non-hazardous solid waste collection services for commercial, industrial, municipal and residential customers through 348 collection companies in 40 states and Puerto Rico.

Rollins Inc. (NYSE:ROL)

  • Current Price - $18.28
  • Current Yield - 1.5%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 7/2011, 16.7% increase to $0.07 quarterly

Rollins, Inc. is an international service company, that provides pest and termite control services through its wholly owned subsidiaries to both residential and commercial customers in North America with international franchises in Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia, the Mediterranean and Europe.

Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ:SAFM)

  • Current Price - $44.15
  • Current Yield - 1.5%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 9/2010, 13% increase to $0.17 quarterly

Sanderson Farms, Inc. is a poultry processing company engaged in the production, processing, marketing and distribution of fresh and frozen chicken products.

Shaw Communications Inc. (NYSE:SJR)

  • Current Price - $21.24
  • Current Yield - 4.5%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 1/2011, 5% increase to $0.076 monthly

Shaw Communications Inc. is a diversified Canadian communications company. Shaw is engaged in the business of providing broadband cable television, Internet, Digital Phone, telecommunications services (through Shaw Business Solutions), satellite direct-to-home services (through Shaw Direct) and engaging programming content (through Shaw Media).

Tiffany and Co.
(NYSE:TIF)

  • Current Price - $69.14
  • Current Yield - 1.7%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 5/2011, 16% increase to $0.29 quarterly

The Company, through its subsidiaries, including Tiffany and Company, sells fine jewelry and other items that it manufactures or has been made by others.

Xilinx Inc. (NASDAQ:XLNX)

  • Current Price - $29.93
  • Current Yield - 2.5%
  • Latest Dividend Increase - 3/2011, 19% increase to $0.19 quarterly

Xilinx, Inc. is a technology company that designs, develops and markets programmable platforms.

Disclosure: I am long PPL.

Source: 30 Companies Nearing a Decade of Dividend Growth