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The Dividend Champions spreadsheet and PDF have been updated through 11/30/11 and are available (click the link.) Note that all references to Champions mean companies that have paid higher dividends for at least 25 straight years; Contenders have streaks of 10-24 years; Challengers have streaks of 5-9 years. “CCC” refers to the universe of Champions, Contenders and Challengers.

Delayed Gratification

Last month, I wrote that I planned to add a column that would be called the Confidence Factor, or CF, and that I would do so for the November 30 update. Unfortunately, I was unable to spare the time to accomplish that this month, but hope to add that feature for the year-end update, along with the columns mentioned below. It will be a company-specific “score” that will be based on various fundamentals and dividend data, with which I hope to express the level of confidence that we might have in the continuation of each company's dividend-growth streak. Again, I would caution that the CF would not be a “score” that suggests that one company (with a higher number) is “better than” another (with a lower number). Instead, it will be intended solely to translate current fundamentals and dividend history into a measure of company-specific dividend-growth persistence and its likelihood of continuing.

In December, I plan to add columns for 2011 dividends paid and one for 2011 vs. 2010 and to reset the formulas for 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year Dividend Growth Rate to use the 2011 dividends paid, instead of 2010 and expand the ranges for the Mean and Standard Deviation. An additional enhancement that I've been discussing is the creation of a Dividend Growth Model, for which I plan to use the 5-year estimated earnings growth rate as the projected 5-year dividend growth rate, except where there are no estimates (or too few analysts), in which case, I use a default 3% projection, based on inflation. I'll show columns for the estimated dividends in 2012 through 2016, along with the 5-year total and the percentage “payback” that it represents, compared with the current price.

Quick Summary

Back in July, I added as page 2 of the Summary tab a table comparing the composite numbers from the latest update with those from the previous month and the end of the previous year. Below that is a summary of this month's activity in terms of companies added, deleted, or promoted:

Quick Summary:

11/30/11

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

102

145

202

449

Ave. No. of Years

38.6

15.1

7.2

16.9

Average Price

49.74

46.81

42.43

45.51

Average Yield

2.97

3.14

3.37

3.20

Ave. MR Increase

7.24

7.97

10.98

9.22

10/31/11

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

103

144

201

448

Ave. No. of Years

38.5

15.1

7.2

16.9

Average Price

48.80

45.98

42.63

45.13

Average Yield

3.02

3.16

3.27

3.18

Ave. MR Increase

6.96

7.92

11.00

9.15

12/31/10

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

98

129

190

417

Ave. No. of Years

38.7

15.7

6.9

NC

Average Price

51.99

45.84

44.65

NC

Average Yield

2.86

2.90

2.90

NC

Ave. MR Increase

6.04

6.63

10.93

NC

MR = Most Recent; NC = Not Calculated

Additions:

American Equity Investment Life Holding Co. (AEL) to Challengers

Baxter International Inc. (BAX) to Challengers

First Keystone Corp. (OTCQB:FKYS) to Contenders

Guess? Inc. (GES) to Challengers

Juniata Valley Bancorp (OTCQB:JUVF) to Contenders

Mesa Laboratories Inc. (MLAB) to Challengers

National CineMedia Inc. (NCMI) to Challengers

Triangle Capital Corp. (TCAP) to Challengers

Utah Medical Products Inc. (UTMD) to Challengers

Deletions:

CenturyLink Inc. (CTL) from Champions

Comfort Systems USA Inc. (FIX) from Challengers

DPL Inc. (DPL) from Challengers

ITT Corp. (ITT) from Challengers

Meridian Bioscience Inc. (VIVO) from Contenders

Orrstown Financial Services (ORRF) from Contenders

Pharmaceutical Product Development Inc. (PPDI) from Challengers

Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG) from Challengers

Promotions:

Nike Inc. (NKE) from Challenger to Contender


What's Ahead

The dividend-streak “death watch” is almost over, with only one stock – Gas Natural (EGAS) - still subject to deletion if it does not increase its dividend in December. As you can see above, the Contenders and Challengers have been hardest hit, but the most popular company that was “on the spot” was former Champion CenturyLink (CTL), which allowed its 37-year streak to lapse. That no doubt was partly responsible for a slight dip in the Champions' average yield and an increase in their average Most Recent Increase. Of course, any of those deleted companies that “froze” their payouts could qualify as “Frozen Angels” if they declare higher payouts in 2012.

As always, I welcome suggestions in the Comment section below.

Source: 102 Dividend Champions For December 2011