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If you are an income investor, you want to buy companies that are increasing their dividends. Given the slowdown in the US economy and the trend toward globalization, you may want to diversify your portfolio with some European dividend payers. You might be interested to know that S&P publishes a list of Dividend Aristocrats for Europe. The list consists of "large cap, blue chips" that have increased their dividends every year for the last 10 years. There are presently 31 companies on this list; however, some have grown their dividends at a much faster rate than others.

Here are the top European dividend growers using S&P's European Aristocrats as a starting point:

Ticker

Company

Country

Dividend

Growth ’97-‘08

Current

Yield

CTAGF.PK

Capita Group, Plc

UK

1,190%

1.7%

NVO

Novo Nordisk

Denmark

801%

1.3%

ATLKY.PK

Atlas Copco

Sweden

599%

2.7%

AAAGY.PK

Altana AG

Germany

584%

3.8%

ORKLY.PK

Orkla AS

Norway

522%

2.8%

N/A

Handelsbanken

Sweden

291%

4.1%

CBHMF.PK

Cobham, Plc

UK

278%

2.1%

MUSJF.PK

Misys, PLC

UK

243%

5.3%

Most of the above stocks are OTC. Several of these companies, however, are worth consideration; in my opinion, Novo Nordisk (NVO), Atlas Copco (ATKLY.PK) and Orkla ASA (OTCPK:ORKLY) are particularly interesting. All three have global operations.

Listed below are five more of Europe's top dividend growers that did not qualify as S&P European Dividend Aristocrats, either because they have been paying dividends for less than 10 years or because they did not increase their dividend every year:

Ticker

Company

Country

Dividend

Growth (Period)

Current

Yield

NOK

Nokia CP

Finland

1,300% (’97-’08)

2.3%

MTA

Magyar Telekom, Plc.

Hungary

1,069% (’98-’08)

14.6%

BASFY.PK

BASF SE

Germany

528% (’01-’08)

2.9%

TOT

Total, SA

France

522% (’97-’08)

4.1%

VOD

Vodafone Group, Plc.

UK

479% (’97-’08)

3.2%

One factor you may want to be aware of when buying a foreign dividend stock is that most (but not all) pay their dividends once a year or semi-annually. And in some cases, tax may be withheld at the source on the dividends paid.

Disclosure: The author is long BASFY.PK.

Source: European Dividend Aristocrats: The Top Growers