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The Dividend Champions spreadsheet and PDF have been updated through 2/29/12. 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.

Expanding Universe

This month brought continued growth in the CCC "universe," as you can see in the Summary below. Maybe the only trend stronger than the addition of new Challengers was the graduation of companies to Contender status and I expect that pattern to continue, since there are currently over 40 companies that have increased their dividends for 9 straight years.

Although a handful of CCC companies have agreed to be acquired and some others could see their streaks end, we should still see the ranks of Champions, Contenders, and Challengers grow throughout the year. A small group of additional companies may be targeted for acquisition, as they 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:

Quick Summary:

2/29/12

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

103

161

195

459

Ave. No. of Years

38.8

14.9

7.2

17.0

Average Price

52.58

47.81

44.79

47.60

Average Yield

2.86

3.12

3.24

3.11

Ave. MR Increase

7.12

8.56

11.95

9.64

1/31/12

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

102

152

197

451

Ave. No. of Years

38.8

15.0

7.2

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

MR = Most Recent; NC = Not Calculated

Additions:

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP (BIP) to Challengers

Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (CCE) to Challengers

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) to Challengers

First of Long Island Corp. (FLIC) to Contenders

Greif Inc. B (GEF-B) to Challengers

Hubbell Inc. A (HUB-A) to Challengers (also HUB-B)

Kinross Gold Corp. (KGC) to Challengers

Lazard Limited (LAZ) to Challengers

Lorillard Inc. (LO) to Challengers

Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. (MRX) to Challengers

NorthWestern Corp. (NWE) to Challengers

Deletions:

Cheviot Financial Corp. (CHEV) from Challengers

National Presto Industries (NPK) from Challengers

Noble Corp. (NE) from Challengers

Promotions:

AGL Resources (GAS) from Challenger to Contender

Analog Devices (ADI) from Challenger to Contender

Avista Corp. (AVA) from Challenger to Contender

BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP) from Challenger to Contender

BHP Billiton plc (BBL) from Challenger to Contender

Infinity Property & Casualty (IPCC) from Challenger to Contender

MOCON Inc. (MOCO) from Challenger to Contender

Occidental Petroleum (OXY) from Challenger to Contender

PPL Corp. (PPL) from Challenger to Contender

T. Rowe Price Group (TROW) from Contender to Champion

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. As a bonus, I'm inserting one of Chuck Carnevale's graphs below, highlighting one of the companies listed above. When the stock's price line has moved into the green area, it indicates that the stock is undervalued in relation to its earnings.

Source: 103 Dividend Champions For March 2012