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When evaluating a company as a potential income investment you look at its calculated fair value, ability to generate cash, debt position and the net present value of its dividend stream compared to alternative "safe" investments. The advantages dividend stocks have over "safe" investments are potential capital appreciation and dividend growth. Not only are your earnings compounding, but the rate of earnings is growing.

Below are several companies giving their shareholders a raise with increased cash dividends:

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Inc. (NASDAQ:RMCF) operates as a confectionery manufacturer, franchisor, and retail operator in the United States and internationally. May 3rd the company increased its quarterly dividend 10% to $0.11 per share. The dividend is payable June 8, 2012 to shareholders of record at the close of business May 24, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 4.2%.

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation (NYSE:CPK) operates as a diversified utility company that primarily engages in regulated energy and unregulated energy businesses. April 3rd the company increased its quarterly dividend 5.8% to $0.365 per share. The dividend is payable July 5, 2012 to all shareholders of record at the close of business on June 15, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 3.5%.

Reynolds American Inc. (NYSE:RAI) manufactures and sells cigarette and other tobacco products in the United States. May 3rd the company increased its quarterly dividend 5.4% to $0.59 per share. The dividend is payable on July 2, 2012, to shareholders of record on June 11, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 5.4%.

PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) engages in the manufacture and sale of snacks, carbonated and non-carbonated beverages, dairy products, and other foods worldwide. May 2nd the company increased its quarterly dividend 4% to $0.5375 per share. The dividend is payable June 29, 2012, to shareholders of record on June 1, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 3.2%.

Cardinal Health, Inc. (NYSE:CAH) operates as a healthcare services company that provides pharmaceutical and medical products and services. May 2nd the company increased its quarterly dividend 10.5% to $0.2375 per share. The dividend is payable July 15 to shareholders of record on July 1. The yield based on the new payout is 2.2%.

Main Street Capital Corporation (NYSE:MAIN) is a business development company specializing in equity, equity related, and debt investments in small and lower middle market companies. May 2nd the company increased its monthly dividend 3.6% to $0.145. The dividend is payable July 16, 2012, to shareholders of record on June 21, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 6.7%.

Gold Resource Corporation (NYSEMKT:GORO), an exploration stage company, engages in the exploration for and production of gold and silver in Mexico. April 30th the company increased its monthly dividend 20% to $0.06 per share. The dividend is payable May 23, 2012 to shareholders of record as of May 10, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 2.7%.

Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. (NASDAQ:ARLP) engages in the production and marketing of coal primarily to utilities and industrial users in the United States. April 30th the partnership increased its quarterly distribution 3.5% to $1.025 per unit. The distribution is payable May 15, 2012 to all unitholders of record as of the close of trading on May 8, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 6.3%.

Apogee Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ:APOG) engages in the design and development of glass products, services, and systems. April 27th the company increased its quarterly dividend 10% to $0.09 per share. The dividend is payable payable on June 1, 2012 to shareholders of record on May 17, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 2.3%.

Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG) is an independent equity real estate investment trust. It engages in investment, ownership, and management of properties. April 27th the company increased its quarterly dividend 5.3% to $1.00 per share. This dividend is payable May 31, 2012 to stockholders of record on May 17, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 2.6%.

Chesapeake Midstream Partners, L.P. (CHKM) owns, operates, develops, and acquires natural gas, natural gas liquids, and oil gathering systems, and other midstream energy assets in the United States. April 27th the partnership increased its quarterly distribution 3.8% to $0.405 per unit. The distribution is payable May 15, 2012 to all unitholders of record at the close of business on May 8, 2012. The yield based on the new payout is 6.1%.

Selecting stocks with increasing dividends is critical for an income growth strategy. The above list contains stocks that recently raised their dividends; it is not a list of recommend buys. As always, due diligence should be performed before buying or selling any stock. For a list of stocks with a long string of consecutive cash dividend increases, see this list.

Disclosure: Long PEP in my Dividend Growth Portfolio. See a list of all my dividend growth holdings here.

Source: 11 Dividend Stocks Giving Shareholders A Raise