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In the most recent installments of the Smackdown series, I screened the Dividend Champions (which can be found here) starting with companies that were down in price and, last month, with a new column listing Beta.

(Note that I have separated the Champions, Contenders and Challengers into different articles to fit more closely into the format preferred by Seeking Alpha. Champions are 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. I use the same Roman numeral for all three articles.)

This month, I decided to start with stocks' most recent (percentage) dividend increase (column L), since many companies seem to have "loosened the purse-strings" as we continue to recover from the "great recession" and I wanted to highlight those that have been the most generous in that regard. So I screened as follows:

Step 1: After eliminating companies that had not increased their dividend in more than a year and those that had agreed to be acquired, I sorted by Most Recent Increase (column L), high to low. Eliminating companies that had percentages below 7% cut the list to 82 companies.

Step 2: Sort the candidates by their yield (column I), high to low. Dropping those with yields below 2% cut the list to 38 companies.

Step 3: Sort the companies by their five-year Dividend Growth Rate (column AN), in order to ensure that the remaining candidates had consistent histories of dividend increases. I eliminated any company with a DGR of less than 8%. Meeting this threshold were 31 companies.

Step 4: Sort the companies by their Price/Earnings ratio (column U), in order to avoid stocks that may be overvalued. Dropping those with P/Es over 15 cut the list to 16 companies, which appear below.

(Note that I've sorted the table back into alphabetical order.)

Company

Ticker

No.

4/30

Div

LY%

TTM

DGR

Name

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Inc.

P/E

5-yr

BancFirst Corp. OK

(NASDAQ:BANF)

18

41.70

2.59

8.00

14.23

9.1

BHP Billiton Ltd.

(NYSE:BHP)

10

74.30

2.96

8.91

8.75

22.9

BHP Billiton plc

(NYSE:BBL)

10

64.36

3.42

8.91

7.58

22.9

General Dynamics

(NYSE:GD)

21

67.50

3.02

8.51

9.83

15.5

Harris Corp.

(NYSE:HRS)

11

45.54

2.90

17.86

10.54

22.8

Meredith Corp.

(NYSE:MDP)

18

28.83

5.31

50.00

12.11

12.4

NextEra Energy

(NYSE:NEE)

18

64.35

3.73

9.09

14.02

8.0

Nippon Tel&Tel

(NYSE:NTT)

10

22.55

3.65

18.85

11.51

23.4

Norfolk Southern

(NYSE:NSC)

11

72.93

2.58

9.30

12.57

19.5

NTT DoCoMo Inc.

(NYSE:DCM)

10

17.12

4.01

15.59

13.07

16.7

Occidental Petroleum

(NYSE:OXY)

10

91.22

2.37

17.39

11.18

17.1

Republic Bancorp KY

(NASDAQ:RBCAA)

13

23.53

2.62

7.69

4.71

10.8

Southside Bancshares

(NASDAQ:SBSI)

18

20.40

3.92

11.11

9.03

15.5

Span-America Medical

(NASDAQ:SPAN)

13

16.28

2.70

10.00

11.31

15.4

Teva Pharmaceutical

(NYSE:TEVA)

13

45.76

2.34

18.98

14.81

24.1

United Technologies

(NYSE:UTX)

17

81.64

2.35

12.94

14.32

12.7

Conclusion

The list includes some familiar names, including several ADRs (American Depository Receipts). Potential investors should consider any tax implications of owning ADRs, since taxes withheld may not be recoverable if they are owned in retirement accounts. Foreign dividend payments also tend to be more erratic and infrequent than those of U.S. companies. As always, please consider this no more than a starting point for more in-depth research.

As an extra step, I'm including one of Chuck Carnevale's F.A.S.T. Graphs for the company that appears to be the most undervalued, as indicated by its price line being in the green-shaded earnings area, just below.

Disclosure: I am long NEE, UTX.

Source: Dividend Contenders Smackdown XXVI