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The strength of a company is often measured by its ability to consistently return value to its shareholders through distributions. Likewise, the strength of a dividend is often measured by its historical endurance over the course of the company's lifetime. It is an encouraging indication when companies annually raise their dividend rates as an expression of their financial well-being. Better still, it is both an impressive and a rare feat when such companies have managed to do so for over half a century.

The following five companies have annually raised their dividend rates for over 50 years. They are enterprises that have managed to embed themselves into the very fabric of the economy. For dividend investors, they have come to symbolize the reliable income investments that serve as the foundation for practically any dividend portfolio. All values were taken as of July 19, 2012.

Company NameMkt. Cap.BetaFwd. Div%# of Div. Raises
Procter & Gamble Co. (PG)$177.89 Billion0.323.40%56 years
Emerson Electric Co. (EMR)$34.50 Billion1.423.50%55 years
3M Co. (MMM)$63.02 Billion1.102.70%54 years
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)$190.87 Billion0.503.50%50 years
The Coca-Cola Company (KO)$175.57 Billion0.432.60%50 years

Procter & Gamble.

The company provides consumer packaged goods for domestic markets and around the world. P&G's self-proclaimed five core strengths are Consumer Understanding, Scale, Go-to-Market Capabilities, Brand-Building, and Innovation. Some of the company's largest brands include Crest, Old Spice, Tampax, Charmin, Dawn, Tide, and Pepto-Bismol. The company currently trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 16.65, a price-to-book ratio of 2.78, and a current ratio of 0.86. The stock yields a forward dividend of 3.5% with a rate of $2.25.

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Emerson Electric Co.

As a diversified technology company with a global presence, Emerson Electric provides solutions to industrial, commercial, and consumer markets. The company specializes in process management, industrial automation, network power, climate technologies, and commercial and residential solutions. The company currently trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 12.31, a price-to-book ratio of 3.28, and a current ratio of 1.38. The stock yields a forward dividend of 3.4% with a rate of $1.60.

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3M Co.

As another diversified technology company with a worldwide presence, 3M Co specializes in solutions for industry, health care, office environments, protection services, display technologies, and communications. The company currently trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 13.07, a price-to-book ratio of 3.89, and a current ratio of 2.38. The stock yields a forward dividend of 2.6% with a rate of $2.36.

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Johnson & Johnson.

With its subsidiaries, Johnson & Johnson is a leading healthcare specialist with a large array of health-related products sold and used around the world. Some of the more popular brands of the company include Johnsons, Aveeno, Neutrogena, Listerine, Band-Aid, Tylenol, and Pepcid AC. The company currently trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 12.73, a price-to-book ratio of 3.32, and a current ratio of 2.69. The stock yields a forward dividend of 3.5% with a rate of $2.44.

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The Coca-Cola Company.

As a leading beverage corporation, the company is most commonly associated with its original product brand of Coca-Cola. Yet the company has expanded into a global enterprise with over 500 brands in over 200 countries. Daily, it serves over 1.7 billion servings each day. The company currently trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 17.71, a price-to-book ratio of 5.41, and a current ratio of 1.11. The stock yields a forward dividend of 2.6% with a rate of $2.04.

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Source: 5 Dividend Growth Companies That Have Raised Rates Annually For 50 Years