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For a look into a company's sales trends, one idea is to consider their growth in inventory over time. Comparing this to growth in revenue could show some interesting results.

We ran a screen on stocks paying dividend yields above 3% for those with positive trends in inventory: growth in quarterly revenue outpacing growth in quarterly inventory year-over-year. We also screened for companies with quarterly inventory decreasing as a percent of current assets.

To understand why these trends are positive, think of why the opposite trends would be negative. If revenue were growing slower than inventory, it may indicate that the company is having trouble selling its inventory - although this could just indicate inventory building or a change in sales policies.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.‬

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.

Do you think these companies have strong sales trends? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

List sorted by difference between growth in revenue and inventory.

1. Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY): Develops, manufactures, and sells pharmaceutical products worldwide. Market cap of $45.66B. Dividend yield at 4.97%, payout ratio at 48.65%. The stock has gained 6.77% over the past quarter. MRQ revenue has increased 8.72% ($6,147.9M vs. $5,654.8M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 6.21% ($2,513.3M vs. $2,679.6M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 18.89% to 17.25%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has gained 19.08% over the last year.

2. Wisconsin Energy Corp. (WEC): Engages in the generation, distribution, and sale of electric energy and steam. Market cap of $8.04B. Dividend yield at 3.45%, payout ratio at 43.57%. The stock has gained 7.95% over the past quarter. MRQ revenue has increased 8.18% ($1,052.8M vs. $973.2M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 12.83% ($368.1M vs. $422.3M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 35.53% to 32.51%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has gained 19.72% over the last year.

3. Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. (DPS): Engages in the manufacture and distribution of non-alcoholic beverages in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Market cap of $8.38B. Dividend yield at 3.28%, payout ratio at 45.17%. The stock has gained 0.18% over the past quarter. MRQ revenue has increased 4.94% ($1,529M vs. $1,457M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 8.13% ($260M vs. $283M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 21.79% to 15.34%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has gained 14.04% over the last year.

4. Cleco Corporation (CNL): Engages in the generation, transmission, distribution, and sale of electricity in Louisiana. Market cap of $2.34B. Dividend yield at 3.26%, payout ratio at 34.55%. The stock has gained 6.92% over the past quarter. MRQ revenue has increased 2.24% ($351.58M vs. $343.89M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 33.34% ($90.33M vs. $135.51M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 30.04% to 17.01%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has gained 25.61% over the last year.

5. Chesapeake Utilities Corporation (CPK): Operates as a diversified utility company that primarily engages in regulated energy and unregulated energy businesses. Market cap of $414.96M. Dividend yield at 3.18%, payout ratio at 48.15%. The stock has gained 6.72% over the past quarter. MRQ revenue has increased 5.41% ($80.61M vs. $76.47M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 4.26% ($16.86M vs. $17.61M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 18.09% to 15.15%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has gained 11.61% over the last year.

6. Emerson Electric Co. (EMR): Operates as a diversified manufacturing and technology company. Market cap of $38.29B. Dividend yield at 3.07%, payout ratio at 42.34%. The stock has gained 12.83% over the past quarter. MRQ revenue has increased 12.05% ($6,545M vs. $5,841M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 0.24% ($2,100M vs. $2,105M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 25.17% to 22.47%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has had a good month, gaining 12.49%.

7. Chevron Corporation (CVX): Engages in petroleum, chemicals, mining, power generation, and energy operations worldwide. Market cap of $212.27B. Dividend yield at 3.04%, payout ratio at 22.20%. The stock has gained 2.81% over the past quarter. MRQ revenue has increased 29.59% ($64,432M vs. $49,718M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 1.06% ($6,072M vs. $6,137M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 13.80% to 11.45%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has gained 16.17% over the last year.

8. General Mills, Inc. (GIS): Manufactures and markets branded consumer foods worldwide. Market cap of $26.04B. Dividend yield at 3.02%, payout ratio at 48.80%. The stock has gained 4.83% over the past quarter. MRQ revenue has increased 13.70% ($4,623.8M vs. $4,066.6M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 4.53% ($1,628.7M vs. $1,706M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 42.47% to 40.50%, comparing 13 weeks ending 2011-11-27 to 13 weeks ending 2010-11-28. The stock has gained 16.87% over the last year.

9. Molex Inc. (MOLX): Manufactures and sells electronic components worldwide. Market cap of $4.68B. Dividend yield at 3.01%, payout ratio at 43.24%. The stock has gained 15.19% over the past quarter. MRQ revenue has increased 4.27% ($935.99M vs. $897.67M y/y) while MRQ inventory has increased 0.07% ($547.21M vs. $546.81M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 29.54% to 26.42%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has had a good month, gaining 10.73%.

*Accounting data sourced from Yahoo! Finance, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 9 High Dividend Yield Stocks With Encouraging Inventory Trends