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Each month we publish a list of stocks that will have an ex-dividend date in the upcoming month. We also rank each of these stocks against our DSO rating system that accounts for yield, growth, total return and payout ratio. So far, May has over 70 stocks with a dividend yield over 3% going ex-dividend.

An ex-dividend date is the day a stock trades without its dividend. To qualify to receive a dividend for any stock an investor must own the stock at the close of trading the day before the ex-dividend date. Below you will find our 7 highest rated dividend stocks going ex-dividend in May.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

DSO Rating: 97. Ex-Dividend Date: May 3rd.

Intel is a semiconductor that develops CPUs for PCs and mobile devices. The company has increased its dividend for 8 consecutive years and has a yield of 2.9%. It has a payout ratio of 34% and a 5 year dividend growth rate of 14%. We believe Intel has room to grow its dividend and we would like to see the yield move to 3.5% before moving up our rating. The stock is very solid as it stands today.

Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT)

DSO Rating: 97. Ex-Dividend Date: May 21st.

Mattel is a global toy manufacturer that sells its products directly to consumers. MAT has a dividend yield of 3% and a payout ratio of 46%. The company has increased its dividend for 3 years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 10.2%. While the fundamentals are solid for Mattel we would like to see a higher dividend yield.

American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP)

DSO Rating: 96. Ex-Dividend Date: May 8th.

American Electric is a utility holding company that has multiple power company subsidiaries in the U.S. AEP has a dividend yield of 4.8% and a payout ratio of 57%. Although the company started paying dividend in 1909 is has only increased its dividend for 3 consecutive years. It has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 4.1%.

Southern Company (NYSE:SO)

DSO Rating: 94. Ex-Dividend Date: May 3rd.

Southern Company is a holding company for multiple power companies in the Southern region of the U.S. SO has a dividend yield of 4.1% and a payout ratio of 74%. The company has increased its dividend for 10 years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 4%. We'd like to see a lower payout ratio without decreasing the yield. Better cash flow and income growth would help us raise our rating.

Harleysville Savings (OTCQX:HARL)

DSO Rating: 94. Ex-Dividend Date: May 7th.

Harleysville Savings is a small bank with 6 locations in Pennsylvania that accepts deposits and issues loans to its customers. HARL has a dividend yield of 4.6% and a payout ratio of 52%. The company has resumed increasing the dividend after not increasing the dividend in 2011. HARL has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 2.8%. We would like to see an improved dividend growth rate, but the total return remains strong with a 4.6% yield.

CMS Energy (NYSE:CMS)

DSO Rating: 94. Ex-Dividend Date: May 2nd.

CMS Energy is an electric and gas energy company that operates most of its business in Michigan. CMS has a dividend yield of 3.8% and a payout ratio of 66%. The company has increased its dividend for 4 consecutive years and has a 3 year dividend growth rate of 30%. We give preference to stocks with a dividend yield over 4% and a payout ratio of 62 or less so CMS just barely misses out on a higher rating.

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY)

DSO Rating: 91. Ex-Dividend Date: May 11th.

Eli Lilly is a pharmaceutical product company that operates in the U.S. and 15 other countries. The company recently purchases the animal health business of Janssen from Johnson & Johnson. LLY has a dividend yield of 4.7% and a payout ratio of 50%. The company has not increased its dividend since 2008, which keeps us from giving the stock a higher rating.

Source: 7 Top Rated Stocks Going Ex-Dividend In May