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Analysts have not wasted any time getting their upgrades on the record following a better-than-expected earnings season. In just the first few days of trading in May, nine dividend stocks have received upgrades. These upgrades are mostly based on valuation and earnings. Each of these stocks has a dividend yield of 2% or more. We have listed the reason for the upgrade and the new price target when available.

BlackRock (NYSE:BLK)

BlackRock was upgraded by Standpoint Research on May 4 from a Hold to a Buy with a price target of $210 per share. Standpoint said the upgrade was based on valuation and recent the decline in stock price. BlackRock has a dividend yield of 3.1% and a payout ratio of 45%. The company has increased the dividend for two years and has a three-year dividend growth rate of 44%.

Lumos Networks (NASDAQ:LMOS)

Lumos Networks was upgraded by DA Davidson from Underperform to Neutral on May 4 with a price target of $8.50. DA Davidson said that while Lumos reported mixed results, the dividend is safe and the downside is limited. Lumos has a dividend yield of 3.1% and a negative EPS ratio, so no payout ratio can be calculated. The company just started paying dividends in 2012.

Masco (NYSE:MAS)

Masco was upgraded by RBC Capital Market from Underperform to Sector Perform on May 3 with a price target of $16 per share. RBC said the upgrade was based on valuation and a recovery in the housing market. Masco has a dividend yield of 2% and also has negative EPS, so no payout ratio can be can be calculated. The company has not increased its dividend since it was cut in 2009.

Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE:RGC)

Regal Entertainment was upgraded by Stifel Nicolaus from a Hold to a Buy on May 3 with a price target of $17. Stifel Nicolaus said the upgrade was based on the strong Q1 report, driven by better-than-expected box office metrics and strong operational improvements. Regal Entertainment has a dividend yield of 6% and a payout ratio of over 100%. The company increased its dividend in 2011 after cutting it in 2009.

True Religion Apparel (NASDAQ:TRLG)

True Religion was upgraded by Caris & Company on May 3 from Above Average to Buy with a price target of $38 per share. Caris said the upgrade was based on better-than-expected results in its recent earnings report. True Religion has a dividend yield of 3% and a payout ratio of 40%. The company just started paying dividends in 2012.

Other Dividend Stock Upgrades

The following stocks were upgraded last week, but the reasons for the upgrades were not made available.

Williams Partners LP (NYSE:WPZ) was upgraded by Stifel Nicolaus from a Hold to a Buy on May 3 with a price target of $62 per share. Williams has a yield of 5.4%, and because it is a limited partnership we are not focused on the payout ratio. The company has increased distributions for six years and has a three-year distribution growth rate of 6.6%.

Allstate (NYSE:ALL) was upgraded by Barclays from Equal Weight to Overweight on May 4 with a price target of $39. Allstate has a dividend yield of 2.5% and a payout ratio of 41%. The company has increased its dividend each year since it was cut in 2009.

Parkway Properties (NYSE:PKY) was upgraded by Stifel Nicolaus on March 4 from a Hold to a Buy with a price target of $11.5 per share. Parkway has a dividend yield of 2.9%. We are not focused on the payout ratio because Parkway is a REIT. The company has not increased its dividend since it was cut in 2010.

Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) was upgraded by Auriga from a Hold to a Buy on May 3 with a price target of $68. Herbalife has a dividend yield of 2% and a payout ratio of 27%. The company has increased its dividend for two years and has a three-year dividend growth rate of 36%.

Source: 9 Dividend Stocks With Investment Firm Upgrades