7 Top-Rated Stocks Going Ex-Dividend In December

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 |  Includes: CBU, DLR, KMB, NWE, PEG, RCI, WR
by: Dividend Stocks Online

Each month we identify high-yield stocks that will be going ex-dividend in the following month. We recently published our list of 88 stocks that will go ex-dividend in December 2011. Each of these stocks has a dividend yield over 4%.

In order to qualify for a dividend payout you must own a dividend stock at the close of trading the day before the ex-dividend date. The investor must also hold the stock into the open of trading on the ex-dividend date (You cannot sell it in pre-market trading and still qualify for the dividend). On the ex-dividend date the stock trades without the dividend and will open lower to reflect the difference in the dividend payout to shareholders.

We narrowed our list of 88 stocks down to the top 7 based on their dividend yield, growth rate and performance.

Digital Realty Trust (NYSE:DLR)

Digital Realty Trust is a REIT that develops, manages and invests in technology related real estate. Most of its properties are located in the US. DLR has an ex-dividend date of December 13.

We have given DLR a 100/100 point rating based on its high dividend yield of 4.1% and its 5 year dividend growth rate of 20.2%. Digital Realty Trust has gained over 20% this year and has been raising its dividend for 5 consecutive years. DLR is one of our top-rated REITs.

Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB)

Kimberly Clark is an international company that manufactures and distributes health care products. Its most popular products included disposable diapers, paper towels and safety products. KMB has an ex-dividend date of December 7.

We gave Kimberly Clark a 98/100 point rating for its high dividend yield of 4% and strong 5-year dividend growth rate of 7.5%. KMB is one of the highest rated stocks on our safe dividend stocks list. It has been raising its dividend for 36 years and has a payout ratio of 66%.

Northwestern Corporation (NYSE:NWE)

Northwestern Corp provides electricity and natural gas to its customers in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. It serves around 665,000 customers through its two business segments. NWE has an ex-dividend date of December 13.

We gave NEW a rating of 92/100 for its high dividend yield of 4.4% and one-year return of 11%. It has been raising their dividend for the last 5 years, but only has a 5-year dividend growth rate of 2.7%.

Westar Energy (NYSE:WR)

Westar Energy serves over 650,000 customers in Kansas through its electric generation and distribution services. It serves both retail and corporate customers. WR has an ex-dividend date of December 7.

We rated Westar Energy 95/100 for its high dividend yield of 4.9% and solid 5-year dividend growth rate of 5.3%. WR has raised its dividend for the last 6 years and has a one-year return of 3.1%.

Public Service Enterprise (NYSE:PEG)

Public Service Enterprise Group is a holding company that operates through three energy related subsidiaries. Those subsidiaries include a power company, electric and gas company and a energy holdings company. PEG trades ex-dividend on December 7.

We gave Public Service Enterprise Group 93/100 for its high dividend yield of 4.4% and 7 years of consecutive dividend increases. Its 5-year dividend growth rate is only 3.8%, which holds the stock back from receiving a higher rating. PEG has been paying dividends since 1907, and it is one of our top-rated utility dividend stocks.

Community Bank (NYSE:CBU)

Community Bank System is a holding company that owns five diverse subsidiaries. Those subsidiaries include a bank, a benefits plan admin company, a closeout corporation and a realty company. CBU has an ex-dividend date of December 13.

We gave Community Bank a rating of 94/100 for it’s solid dividend fundamentals. The stock is down 2% over the last year, which keeps it from a higher rating. CBU has a dividend yield of 4.1%, a 5-year dividend growth rate of 5% and has raised its dividend for 18 consecutive years.

Rogers Communications (NYSE:RCI)

Rogers Communications is a holding company that operates in wireless, cable and media. Its services are based in Canada and include Internet, home phone and broadcasting. RCI has an ex-dividend date of December 13.

We gave Rogers a rating of 92/100 for its dividend yield of 4% and a 5 year dividend growth rate of 83%. It has raised their dividend for 5 consecutive years, and has been paying dividends since 2000.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.