Last week, we saw a large number of dividend paying stocks get downgraded. Despite the negative outlook from analysts, a few high quality dividend payers managed to see new upgrades applied to their stocks. Each of the stocks we are covering in this article has a dividend yield of 2% or more. We have provided the reason behind each upgrade and the investment firm's new target price when available.
Greif was upgraded by Barrington Research on March 2nd from Market Perform to Outperform, but the firm did not provide a new price target. Barrington cited Greif's early Q2/12 signs of volume improvement and said it could be the beginning of an inflection point. Barrington also cited their expectations that 2013 should be a better EBITDA year. Greif has a dividend yield of 3.4% and a 5 year dividend growth rate of 22.2%. The company started paying dividends in 1990, and has increased its dividend for 8 consecutive years. GEF has a payout ratio of 56%.
CDI Corp (NYSE:CDI)
CDI Corp was upgraded by Northland Securities from Market Perform to Outperform on February 29th with a price target of $19. Northland upgraded the stock following the company's Q4 results. CDI has a dividend yield of 3.6% and a 5 year dividend growth rate of 3.5%. The company has not increased its dividend since 2007.
Chevron was upgraded by Deutsche Bank from a Hold to a Buy on February 29th, with a price target of $130. Deutsche Bank cited valuation as the reason for their upgrade and said Chevron is leveraged to benefit from higher Brent Crude oil prices. Chevron has a dividend yield of 2.9% and has increased its dividend for 19 consecutive years. The company started paying dividends in 1912 and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 8.9%. CVX has a payout ratio of 24%.
American Campus Communities (NYSE:ACC)
American Campus Communities was upgraded by Argus from a Hold to a Buy on February 27th with a price target of $46 per share. Argus cited strong fundamentals and valuation as the reason for their upgrade. American Campus is a REIT and has a dividend yield of 3.3%. It started paying dividends in 2004 and has not changed its annual dividend of $1.35 per share in the last 5 years.
Interpublic was upgraded by Deutsche Bank from a Hold to a Buy on February 27th with a target price of $15 per share. Deutsche Bank cited the company's Q4 results and guidance as the reason for the upgrade. Interpublic has a dividend yield of 2.1% and a payout ratio of 24%. The company just started paying dividends again in 2011.
Other Dividend Stock Upgrades
We found 2 other dividend stocks that were upgraded last week, and the reason behind the upgraded was not available. Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) was upgraded on March 2nd by Caris & Company from Average to Above Average. Staples has a dividend yield of 2.6%. Sonoco Products (NYSE:SON) was upgraded by Robert W. Baird from Neutral to Outperform on March 1st with a price target of $38 per share. Sonoco Products has a dividend yield of 3.6%.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.