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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 companies raise their payout about the same time every year, I can say with some confidence that they are likely to do so again.

Happy Holidays

In this article, I'm modifying the Expected Increase series to reflect a more reader-friendly format by separating the Champions, Contenders and Challengers into distinct groupings, so please look for the other lists, which I hope will be published about the same time. Before the year ends, I hope to see Mercury General (NYSE:MCY) graduate to Champion status and York Water Company (NASDAQ:YORW) to declare the dividend that will be paid in January, marking its 197th straight year of dividends. (Yes, the streak of uninterrupted payments started in 1816!)

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

Dividend Contenders (10-24 years):



No.

9/30



LY%

LY

Company

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Rate

Inc.

Ex-Div

StanCorp Financial Group

(NYSE:SFG)

13

27.57

3.12

0.8600

7.50

11/17/10

Atmos Energy

(NYSE:ATO)

23

32.45

4.19

0.3400

1.49

11/23/10

MDU Resources

(NYSE:MDU)

20

19.19

3.39

0.1625

3.17

12/7/10

South Jersey Industries

(NYSE:SJI)

12

49.75

2.93

0.3650

10.61

12/8/10

Citizens Holding Company

(NASDAQ:CIZN)

11

18.49

4.76

0.2200

4.76

12/13/10

New Jersey Resources

(NYSE:NJR)

16

42.57

3.38

0.3600

5.88

12/13/10

Mercury General Corp.

(MCY)

24

38.35

6.26

0.6000

1.69

12/14/10

C.H. Robinson Worldwide

(NASDAQ:CHRW)

14

68.47

1.69

0.2900

16.00

12/16/10

Ecolab Inc.

(NYSE:ECL)

19

48.89

1.43

0.1750

12.90

12/17/10

Lincoln Electric Holdings

(NASDAQ:LECO)

16

29.01

2.14

0.1550

10.71

12/29/10

Stryker Corp.

(NYSE:SYK)

18

47.13

1.53

0.1800

20.00

12/29/10

York Water Company

(YORW)

14

16.18

3.24

0.1310

2.34

12/29/10

Erie Indemnity Company

(NASDAQ:ERIE)

21

71.18

2.89

0.5150

7.29

1/3/11

Royal Gold Inc.

(NASDAQ:RGLD)

10

64.06

0.69

0.1100

22.22

1/3/11

Urstadt Biddle Properties

(NYSE:UBA)

17

15.97

6.14

0.2450

1.03

1/3/11

NSTAR

(NYSE:NST)

13

44.81

3.79

0.4250

6.25

1/5/11

Roper Industries Inc.

(NYSE:ROP)

18

68.91

0.64

0.1100

15.79

1/5/11

About two dozen MLPs (Master Limited Partnerships) – Contenders and Challengers - 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: Dividend Contenders: 17 Increases Expected In The Next 10 Weeks