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Earnings season is in full swing and analysts are providing new insight into their expectations for dividend paying stocks. Seven stocks with a dividend yield of 2% or more were upgraded last week. We have listed the reason for the upgrade and the new price target, where it was made available by the investment firm.

Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB)

Fifth Third Bancorp was upgraded by Deutsche Bank on April 25th from a Hold to a Buy and raised its price target to $17. The previous price target was $14. Deutsche Bank said the upgrade was based on relative valuation and potential capital deployment. FITB has a dividend yield of 2.1% and a payout ratio of 25%. The company has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 39%. The year 2012 will be the second consecutive year of FITB increasing its dividend.

United Technologies Corp (UTX)

United Technologies was upgraded by Argus on April 25th from a Hold to a Buy with a price target of $96. Argus cited the pullback in shares and expectations for an upswing in the commercial aircraft market. UTX has a dividend yield of 2.4% and a payout ratio of 36%. The company has increased its dividend for 19 consecutive years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 12.6%.

Diebold Inc (DBD)

Diebold was upgraded by Compass Point from Neutral to Buy on April 24th with a price target of $45. Compass Point analyst Douglas Greiner said the upgrade was based on the recent pullback in the stock, improving EPS estimates and improving expertise. DBD has a dividend yield of 2.8% and a payout ratio of 50%. The company has increased its dividend for 58 consecutive years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate. Once the stock reaches a 3% yield, it will move to our top rated dividend list.

JAKKS Pacific (JAKK)

JAKKS Pacific was upgraded by Needham on April 23rd from a Hold to a Buy with a price target of $22. Needham said the upgrade was based on moves the company recently made, which include a self-tender for $80 million worth of stock at $20 or higher, expanding the board, and the potential acquisition from Oaktree. JAKKS has a dividend yield of 2.1% and a payout ratio over 100%. The company just started paying dividends in 2011.

Other Upgrades:

The following stocks were upgraded but the reason for the upgrade was not available:

Golub Capital (GBDC) was upgraded by Stifel Nicolaus from a Hold to a Buy on April 26th with a new price target of $16 per share. GBDC has a dividend yield of 8.7% and a payout ratio over 100%. The company started paying dividends in 2010.

Ryder System Inc (R) was upgraded by Robert W. Baird on April 25th from Neutral to Outperform with a price target of $61 per share. Ryder has a dividend yield of 2.3% and a payout ratio of 34%. The company has increased its dividend for 7 years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 8.7%.

Chesapeake Utilities (CPK) was upgraded by Hilliard Lyons on April 23rd from Neutral to Long-term Buy with a price target of $45 per share. CPK has a dividend yield of 3.3% and a payout ratio of 49%. The company has increased its dividend for 8 years and has a 5 year dividend growth rate of 3.5%.

Source: 7 Dividend-Paying Stocks With New Buy Ratings