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By Ross Bernstein

These five companies have more than 25 year’s track record of raising their dividends, of which two offers above average yields with promising prospects for the future.

Brown-Forman Class B (NYSE:BF.B): The dividend has been increased for 27 consecutive years. The yield is 1.71% and the annual payout is $1.4. The quarterly payout was increased by 9.4% to $0.35 with the payout ratio at 32.4%. The growth rate over the last decade is 9.2%.

The stock is up about 7% for the year, trading at 18.8 times its trailing twelve months earnings. When times are tough, most people usually look to drown their sorrows which benefits companies like Brown-Forman. This showed when the company released strong fiscal 2012 first quarter results driven by solid growth in the domestic market with its trademark Jack Daniel’s brand the star performer.

Despite a small yield, this stock is resilient and should provide steady and increasing payouts for the foreseeable future. This stock is a worthy selection, if you can get it cheaper during the current market turmoil, consider yourself lucky.

C.R. Bard Inc. (NYSE:BCR): The dividend has been increased for 40 consecutive years. The yield is a lowly 0.8% and the annual payout is $0.76. The quarterly payout was increased by 5.56% to $0.19 with the payout ratio at 19.54%, the lowest on this list. The growth rate over the last decade is 5.5%.

The stock is down roughly 8% for the year and trades at a hefty 21.6 times its trailing twelve months (ttm) earnings. It’s expensive when compared to Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) at 13.9 (ttm) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) at 15.3 (ttm).

Taking the yield and annual payout into consideration, Johnson and Johnson is a better buy. This stock should be bought when it takes a severe hit. For now, avoid it.

California Water Service (NYSE:CWT): The dividend has been increased for 44 consecutive years. The yield is 3.3% and the annual payout is $0.62.The quarterly payout was increased by 3.36% to $0.1538 with the payout ratio at 63.4%. The growth rate over the last decade is terribly low at 0.8%. .

The stock is about 1% down for the year, trading at 18.6 times its trailing twelve months (ttm) earnings, making it expensive when compared to American States Water (NYSE:AWR) at 13.8 (ttm) and American Water Works (NYSE:AWK) at 17.3 (ttm).

American States Water offers a higher annual payout at a cheaper valuation and has two revenue streams, water and electricity. This gives it the edge over California Water Service. For those investors still preferring California Water, they should wait for a pull back in the price.

Carlisle Companies (NYSE:CSL): The dividend has been increased for 35 consecutive years. The yield is 1.73% and the annual payout is $0.72.The quarterly payout was increased by 5.88% to $0.18 with the payout ratio at 26%. The growth rate over the last decade is 5.7%.

The stock is up roughly 6% for the year, trading at 15.1 times its trailing twelve months (ttm) earnings. Though it’s a bit expensive compared to Bridgestone Corp. (OTCPK:BRDCY) at 11.7 (ttm), this shouldn’t deter investors too much considering the growth prospects for 2012.

The company is having a stellar year and the latest results show solid growth in its fundamentals. The dividend yield is a little on the low side, so investors should wait for a further decline in the overall market before making commitments.

CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE:CTL): The star performer on this list. The dividend has been increased for 37 consecutive years. The yield is at a very enticing 8.2% and the annual payout is $2.9.The quarterly payout was increased by 3.57% to $0.725 with the payout ratio at 142.86%. The growth rate over the last decade is at an incredible 31.3%, growing twice as fast (64.6%) over the last five years.

The stock is down over 20% for the year, selling at 24.7 times its trailing twelve months (ttm) earnings. It’s quite expensive compared to AT&T (NYSE:T) at 14.25 (ttm) and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) at 14.5 (ttm).

Whilst CenturyLink has strong cash flow to support the dividend, the increase in its debt load is something to keep in mind though. Earnings could improve modestly next year as its merger integration efforts take hold.

If you are a patient investor, wait for a pull back in the stock price to take a position. This is likely to happen since the broader market is likely to decline further as there is no end to the debt crises both here and abroad.

Source: 10 Stocks That Have Raised Dividend For 25 Years Or More: Part 2