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Each month we review stocks that have a dividend yield over 4% and have an ex-dividend date in the next 30 days. We rate each stock using our DSO rating system which accounts for dividend yield, dividend growth, income growth, payout ratio and stock performance. We have 5 stocks going ex-dividend in March that we have rated 90 points or more.

To qualify for a dividend payout an investor must own the stock at the close of trading the day before the ex-dividend date. If the investor was to sell the stock on the ex-dividend date they would still qualify to receive the dividend on the payable date.

Northwestern Corporation (NYSE:NWE)

Northwester Corp has an ex-dividend date of March 13th, 2012 and has a DSO rating of 95/100. It has a dividend yield of 4.1% and has a payout ratio of 65% which is a little higher than we like to see. Generally our top rated dividend stocks have a payout ratio of 60% or less. Northwestern has raised its dividend for 6 consecutive years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 3% which is below our target of 5% or more. Northwestern Corp is a electric utility and natural gas company that serves customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Westar Energy (NYSE:WR)

Westar Energy has an ex-dividend date of March 7th, 2012 and has a DSO rating of 96/100. Westar has a dividend yield of 4.6% and a payout ratio of 70%. The company has raised its dividend for 7 consecutive years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 5.1%. We'd like to see the payout ratio come down a little before we rate the stock higher. Westar Energy is an electric utility company that generates and distributes energy to its customers in Kansas.

DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE)

DTE Energy has an ex-dividend date of March 15th, 2012 and has a DSO rating of 94/100. DTE has a dividend yield of 4.2% and a payout ratio of 56%. The company has raised its dividend for 2 consecutive years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of just 2.3%. We'd like to see their dividend growing at a faster pace to help drive the stock price higher. DTE Energy is an electric and gas company that serves customers in Michigan. The company also operates oil and gas development and production business divisions.

SCANA Corp (NYSE:SCG)

SCANA Corporation has an ex-dividend date of March 7th, 2012 and a DSO rating of 93/100. It has a dividend yield of 4.3% and a payout ratio of 65%. It has increased its dividend for 11 consecutive years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 2.9%. We would like to see EPS increase to help improve the payout ratio and allow for more rapid dividend growth. SCANA Corp is a energy company that generates and transmits electricity and natural gas in North and South Carolina.

Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI)

Reynolds American has an ex-dividend date of March 7th, 2012 and a DSO rating of 92/100. RAI has a dividend yield of 5.2% and a 5 year dividend growth rate of 9.5%. The company has raised its dividend for 2 consecutive years but has a payout ratio of 90% which is holding the stock back from receiving a higher rating. Reynolds American is a tobacco company that operates a number of tobacco related businesses in the US.

Source: 5 Top Rated Stocks Going Ex-Dividend In March