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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.

Down the Stretch

With this article, the "expected increase" series returns to the usual format, showing companies expected to increase their dividends up to 10 weeks ahead of their Ex-Dividend Date. (I had extended the “forward look” to more than 11 weeks in order to cover the anticipated boost by McDonald's (MCD), which typically announces its dividend more than two months ahead of the Ex-Dividend date.

Notable increases since the previous update included year 35 by McDonald's, and the fifth year of increases by Covidien plc (COV), making it the latest Dividend Challenger.

Based on last year's announcements, I'm expecting the following companies to announce dividend increases between now and the ex-dividend dates of their previous increase:

Dividend Champions (25 Years Or Longer):



No.

8/31



LY%

LY

Company

Symbol

Years

Price

Yield

Rate

Inc.

Ex-Div

Clarcor Inc.

(CLC)

46

46.54

0.90

0.1050

7.69

10/6/10

RPM International Inc.

(RPM)

37

20.84

4.03

0.2100

2.44

10/14/10

Eaton Vance Corp.

(EV)

30

24.41

2.95

0.1800

12.50

10/27/10

Northwest Natural Gas

(NWN)

55

45.22

3.85

0.4350

4.82

10/27/10

Cintas Corp.

(CTAS)

28

31.98

1.53

0.4900

2.08

11/10/10

Emerson Electric

(EMR)

54

46.55

2.96

0.3450

2.99

11/10/10

Middlesex Water Co.

(MSEX)

38

18.19

4.01

0.1825

1.39

11/11/10

Vectren Corp.

(VVC)

51

27.37

5.04

0.3450

1.47

11/11/10

AFLAC Inc.

(AFL)

28

37.72

3.18

0.3000

7.14

11/15/10

Stepan Company

(SCL)

43

75.65

1.37

0.2600

8.33

11/26/10

Tennant Company

(TNC)

39

43.96

1.55

0.1700

21.43

11/26/10

Brown-Forman Class B

(BF.B)

27

71.75

1.78

0.3200

6.67

12/3/10

Dividend Contenders (10 To 24 Years):



No.

8/31



LY%

LY

Company

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Rate

Inc.

Ex-Div

Atlantic Tele Network Inc.

(ATNI)

13

33.20

2.65

0.2200

10.00

10/4/10

Citizens Financial Services

(OTCQB:CZFS)

12

37.00

2.81

0.2600

1.96

10/13/10

West Pharmaceutical Svc

(WST)

18

40.12

1.69

0.1700

6.25

10/18/10

Matthews International

(MATW)

16

33.41

0.96

0.0800

14.29

10/21/10

Brown & Brown Inc.

(BRO)

17

21.01

1.52

0.0800

3.23

11/1/10

1st Source Corp.

(SRCE)

21

22.75

2.81

0.1600

6.67

11/3/10

Shenandoah Telecomm.

(SHEN)

14

13.73

2.40

0.3300

3.13

11/5/10

StanCorp Financial Group

(SFG)

13

30.55

2.82

0.8600

7.50

11/17/10

Atmos Energy

(ATO)

23

33.54

4.05

0.3400

1.49

11/23/10

Arrow Financial Corp.

(AROW)

17

23.71

4.22

0.2500

3.00

12/1/10

Dividend Challengers (5 To 9 Years):



No.

8/31



LY%

LY

Company

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Rate

Inc.

Ex-Div

American Financial Group

(AFG)

5

33.28

1.95

0.1625

18.18

10/13/10

Senior Housing Prop.

(SNH)

7

23.79

6.22

0.3700

2.78

10/13/10

Eagle Financial Services

(OTCQB:EFSI)

7

16.95

4.25

0.1800

5.88

10/28/10

Bank of Marin Bancorp

(BMRC)

6

35.61

1.80

0.1600

6.67

11/1/10

Noble Corp.

(NE)

7

33.76

1.60

0.1347

2.51

11/4/10

Somerset Hills Bancorp

(SOMH)

6

7.79

3.08

0.0600

20.00

11/12/10

Perrigo Company

(PRGO)

8

94.74

0.30

0.0700

12.00

11/24/10

Strayer Education Inc.

(STRA)

7

94.65

4.23

1.0000

33.33

11/24/10

Aaron's Inc.

(AAN)

6

26.64

0.20

0.0130

8.33

11/29/10

TransAlta Corp.

(TAC)

5

22.55

4.96

0.2795

8.12

11/29/10

Cass Information Sys.

(CASS)

9

36.18

1.77

0.1600

14.29

12/1/10

Nike Inc.

(NKE)

9

86.65

1.43

0.3100

14.81

12/2/10

In addition, I anticipate that several other companies will boost their dividends during this period, marking their fifth straight year of increases and promoting them to Challenger status:

Company

Symbol

Ex-Div

CMS Energy Corp.

(CMS)

11/3/10

National CineMedia Inc.

(NCMI)

11/16/10

Evercore Partners Inc.

(EVR)

11/23/10

NV Energy Inc.

(NVE)

12/3/10

About two dozen Master Limited Partnerships are also likely to increase their payouts again, as they tend to do each quarter, in late October or early November.

Not all of the above companies will meet the strict standards of every investor, but some may be appropriate for portfolio diversification. Potential investors should do more research before committing funds.

Source: 38 Dividend Increases Expected In The Coming Weeks