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The Dividend Champions spreadsheet and PDF have been updated through 1/31/12 and are available at here. 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.

Off to a Good Start

Last month, I added several new columns, introducing both the Confidence Factor and the Dividend Growth Model to start the new year. I don't expect to make any more significant changes in the foreseeable future, but I do anticipate continued growth in the CCC "universe," and, of course, a continuing strong trend by companies extending their streaks of increases. After a slow start (due to the holidays, no doubt), a few dozen companies declared higher dividends in January, and I expect that pattern to continue, reaching its peak in late Spring.

As the year progresses, dozens of companies should graduate from Challenger to Contender status as they add to current nine-year streaks and at least a few dozen companies will join the Challengers as they record their fifth year of increases. A smaller group is likely to be promoted to join the Champions listing, but I don't think there will be many deletions, except possibly for acquisitions, as some of these fine companies are recognized for their quality by larger rivals.

Quick Summary

Since July, page 2 of the Summary tab has shown a table comparing the composite numbers from the latest update to those from the previous month and the end of the previous year. Below that is a summary of the latest month's activity, in terms of companies added, deleted or promoted. That activity is reflected below:

1/31/12

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

102

152

197

451

Ave. No. of Years

38.8

15.0

10.6

17.0

Average Price

51.39

47.30

44.38

46.95

Average Yield

2.89

3.08

3.29

3.13

Ave. MR Increase

7.09

8.67

10.89

9.36

12/30/11

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

102

146

200

448

Ave. No. of Years

38.7

15.1

7.2

17.0

Average Price

49.98

46.20

42.62

45.46

Average Yield

2.94

3.10

3.36

3.18

Ave. MR Increase

7.24

8.47

10.99

9.39

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:

El Paso Pipeline Partners LP (NYSE:EPB) to Challengers

Finish Line Inc. (The) (NASDAQ:FINL) to Challengers

Vanguard Natural Resources LLC (NASDAQ:VNR) to Challengers

Western Gas Partners LP (NYSE:WES) to Challengers

Deletions:

Corporate Office Properties Trust (NYSE:OFC) from Contenders

Promotions:

Alliance Resource Partners LP (NASDAQ:ARLP) from Challenger to Contenders

Healthcare Services Group Inc. (NASDAQ:HCSG) from Challenger to Contender

National Instruments Corp. (NASDAQ:NATI) from Challenger to Contender

Omega Healthcare Investors (NYSE:OHI) from Challenger to Contender

ONEOK Inc. (NYSE:OKE) from Challenger to Contender

Rollins Inc. (NYSE:ROL) from Challenger to Contender

Shaw Communications Inc. (NYSE:SJR) from Challenger to Contender

Other:

Cheviot Financial Corp. changed its symbol from CHEV to CHEVD*

*stock to trade as CHEVD for 20 days from 1/18, then revert to CHEV

What's Ahead

I think we'll see a continuation of the trend toward more generous dividend increases, as companies' Boards of Directors pass along more of the profits that have been produced since the "Great Recession." As always, I welcome suggestions in the Comment section below.

Source: 102 Dividend Champions For February 2012