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Dividend growth investing
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Dividend growth investing involves the selection of companies based on a set of criteria such as valuation, strong brands, strong competitive advantages and long histories of annual dividend increases. It is not about chasing high yielders today, but more about finding the right stock that would grow distributions over time, and thus provide investors with inflation protection in their income. Only companies with strong business models are able to increase dividends every year for long stretches of time. Dividend investors should take the time to study these success stories as they unfold in front of their eyes and even consider adding some to their dividend portfolios.

Over the past week, the following consistent dividend payers announced plans to hike distribution payouts to shareholders. These companies have a dividend culture which encourages sharing profits with shareholders. The companies raising distributions include:

Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL), together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and markets consumer products worldwide. The company raised its quarterly distributions by 6.90% to 62 cents/share. This marked the 49th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend champion. Yield: 2.60% (analysis)

General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD), an aerospace and defense company, provides business aviation; combat vehicles, weapons systems, and munitions; military and commercial shipbuilding; and communications and information technology products and services worldwide. The company raised its quarterly distributions by 8.50% to 51 cents/share. This marked the 21st consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend achiever. Yield: 2.90% (analysis)

Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc. (NYSE:PNY), an energy services company, engages in the distribution of natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and power generation customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The company raised its quarterly distributions by 3.40% to 30 cents/share. This marked the 34th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend champion. Yield: 3.70% (analysis)

QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM) designs, develops, manufactures, and markets digital telecommunications products and services. The company raised its quarterly distributions by 16.30% to 25 cents/share. This marked the 10th consecutive annual dividend increase for the company. Yield: 1.70%

Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc. (NYSE:ELS) is a publicly owned real estate investment trust (REIT) that engages in the ownership and operation of lifestyle oriented properties. The company raised its quarterly distributions by 16.70% to 43.75 cents/share. This marked the 9th consecutive annual dividend increase for the company. Yield: 2.50%

Canadian Natural Resources Limited (NYSE:CNQ) engages in the exploration, development, production, marketing, and sale of crude oil, natural gas liquids, and natural gas. The company raised its quarterly distributions by 16.70% to 10.50 cents/share. This marked the 12th consecutive annual dividend increase for this international dividend achiever. Yield: 1.20%

Disclosure: Long CL

Source: 6 Dividend Growth Stocks Offering Positive Feedback