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In compiling the Dividend Champions list, I get to see which companies are nearing the anniversaries of their previous dividend increases. Most of these firms raise their payout about the same time every year, but some companies go longer before boosting their dividends, and this can raise concerns about their streaks of increases.

Dividends in Doubt Series

This monthly series lists companies whose latest dividend increases might be considered "overdue" because it has been more than a year since the previous increase, a possible sign that their streaks of increases are in danger. Some firms regularly go more than a year between increases, so this is only an "early warning" sign that some of them may warrant concern.

This month, I've sorted the Champions, Contenders, and Challengers together, then grouped them by when their streaks are in danger of ending. In general, streaks are based on the calendar year, but some firms have streaks based on their fiscal year, so they may have more breathing room beyond December in order to extend those streaks.

Since we're entering the final quarter of 2012, we're on the Dividend-Streak "Death Watch," when companies' next dividend, if unchanged (or lower) will result in deletion. Any increase by a company will "rescue" that company from this "probationary" listing.

Streak will end without increase by 12/31/12:

Company

Ticker

No.

8/31

Div.

MR%

Pay

Ann.

Payout

TTM

FYE

Name

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Inc.

Date

Div.

%Ratio

P/E

Month

Knight Transportation

(NYSE:KNX)

7

14.30

1.68

20.00

6/25/10

0.24

30.00

17.88

12

First Capital Inc.

(NASDAQ:FCAP)

10

20.99

3.62

5.56

9/30/10

0.76

51.70

14.28

12

Eagle Financial Services

(OTCQB:EFSI)

25

20.05

3.59

5.88

11/15/10

0.72

43.11

12.01

12

United Community Bp *

(NASDAQ:UCBA)

5

6.86

6.41

10.00

5/28/10

0.44

169.23

26.38

6

Strayer Education Inc.

(NASDAQ:STRA)

8

64.78

6.17

33.33

12/10/10

4.00

53.84

8.72

12

Tennant Company

(NYSE:TNC)

39

41.95

1.62

21.43

12/15/10

0.68

32.69

20.17

12

Citizens Holding Co.

(NASDAQ:CIZN)

11

19.66

4.48

4.76

12/31/10

0.88

62.41

13.94

12

Lake Shore Bancorp

(NASDAQ:LSBK)

6

10.02

2.79

16.67

2/22/11

0.28

43.75

15.66

12

Avon Products Inc.

(NYSE:AVP)

22

15.45

5.95

4.55

3/1/11

0.92

161.40

27.11

12

*Calendar Year streak; Fiscal Year streak does not exist

Streak will end without increase by end of current Fiscal Year (2013):

Company

Ticker

No.

8/31

Div.

MR%

Pay

Ann.

Payout

TTM

FYE

Name

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Inc.

Date

Div.

%Ratio

P/E

Month

Guess? Inc.

(NYSE:GES)

6

26.06

3.07

25.00

12/23/10

0.80

31.37

10.22

1

Landauer Inc.

(NYSE:LDR)

9

58.64

3.75

2.23

1/3/11

2.20

87.65

23.36

9

Campbell Soup Co.

(NYSE:CPB)

7

35.14

3.30

5.45

1/31/11

1.16

50.22

15.21

7

Bowl America Class A

(NYSEMKT:BWL.A)

40

12.50

5.12

3.23

2/8/11

0.64

206.45

40.32

6

American Greetings

(NYSE:AM-OLD)

8

14.39

4.17

7.14

4/21/11

0.60

82.19

19.71

2

Streak will end without increase by 12/31/13:

Company

Ticker

No.

8/31

Div.

MR%

Pay

Ann.

Payout

TTM

FYE

Name

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Inc.

Date

Div.

%Ratio

P/E

Month

StoneMor Partners LP

(NYSE:STON)

7

23.94

9.77

1.74

5/16/11

2.34

n/a

n/a

12

Columbia Sportswear

(NASDAQ:COLM)

6

52.29

1.68

10.00

6/2/11

0.88

29.93

17.79

12

Tower Group Inc.

(NASDAQ:TWGP)

5

18.64

4.02

50.00

6/24/11

0.75

182.93

45.46

12

Talisman Energy Inc.

(NYSE:TLM)

6

13.94

1.94

8.00

6/30/11

0.27

45.00

23.23

12

First Financial Corp.

(NASDAQ:THFF)

24

30.47

3.09

2.17

7/1/11

0.94

34.31

11.12

12

Birner Dental Mgmt.

(NASDAQ:BDMS)

8

17.70

4.97

10.00

7/8/11

0.88

125.71

25.29

12

Ecology & Environment**

(NASDAQ:EEI)

6

12.03

3.99

9.09

8/5/11

0.48

55.81

13.99

7

NuStar Energy LP

(NYSE:NS)

11

50.72

8.64

1.86

8/12/11

4.38

n/a

n/a

12

Tompkins Financial Corp.

(NYSEMKT:TMP)

25

38.84

3.71

5.88

8/15/11

1.44

48.32

13.03

12

Energy Transfer Eq. LP

(NYSE:ETE)

7

43.95

5.69

11.61

8/19/11

2.50

155.28

27.30

12

AptarGroup Inc.

(NYSE:ATR)

18

50.65

1.74

22.22

8/23/11

0.88

34.78

20.02

12

Eagle Bancorp MT **

(NASDAQ:EBMT)

13

10.27

2.78

1.79

8/26/11

0.29

50.89

18.34

6

Juniata Valley Financial

(OTCQB:JUVF)

21

17.65

4.99

4.76

9/1/11

0.88

93.62

18.78

12

National CineMedia Inc.

(NASDAQ:NCMI)

5

14.50

6.07

10.00

9/1/11

0.88

231.58

38.16

12

National Healthcare Cp

(NYSEMKT:NHC)

8

44.69

2.69

7.14

9/1/11

1.20

32.97

12.28

12

Kaydon Corp.

(NYSE:KDN)

5

22.24

3.60

5.26

10/3/11

0.80

55.17

15.34

12

Helmerich & Payne **

(NYSE:HP)

39

45.64

0.61

16.67

9/1/11

0.28

5.60

9.13

9

Acme United Corp.

(NYSEMKT:ACU)

8

10.81

2.59

16.67

10/24/11

0.28

26.67

10.30

12

**Calendar Year streak; Fiscal Year streak would end sooner

Streak will end without increase by end of next Fiscal Year (2014):

Company

Ticker

No.

8/31

Div.

MR%

Pay

Ann.

Payout

TTM

FYE

Name

Symbol

Yrs

Price

Yield

Inc.

Date

Div.

%Ratio

P/E

Month

Greif Inc. B

(NYSE:GEF.B)

8

49.90

5.05

1.61

4/1/11

2.52

82.62

16.36

10

Frisch's Restaurants

(NYSEMKT:FRS)

5

33.01

1.94

6.67

10/10/11

0.64

54.24

27.97

5

MR = Most Recent; TTM = Trailing Twelve Months; FYE = Fiscal Year End

Note that companies with Pay Dates that are less than a year old have already declared an unchanged next dividend, so they will become 'overdue' with that dividend payment. Other companies will join this list as they pass the anniversaries of their previous increases without hiking their dividends.

Since the determinant for inclusion revolves around the Dividend Payment, that Date is listed above, along with the Payout Ratio and the Price/Earnings ratio, two key indicators of a company's ability to increase the payout.

Assessing Risk

Some companies, such as REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) and MLPs (Master Limited Partnerships), are structured to pay out more than earnings per share, so we can't easily tell from seemingly high payout ratios or P/Es just how risky they are. Some seemingly alarming ratios might suggest great risk, but a look ahead at the estimated earnings per share for this year or next might prove a bit more comforting.

Companies with shorter streaks may be more likely to allow them to lapse, since they haven't yet established long histories (or "cultures") of rewarding shareholders with growing dividends. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome below.

Source: 34 'Overdue' Dividend Increases: Which Streaks Are In Danger?