November 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM EST
12 Companies Boosting Dividends
These 12 companies have announced dividend increases over the past week. All of them have raised distributions for at least five consecutive years.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the most satisfying press release coming from a dividend-paying corporation is the one announcing a dividend increase. For dividend growth investors, who have analyzed the company and purchased its stock based on the dividend growth capabilities of that business, this provides strong, almost instantaneous feedback in the form of a higher reward. After all, a company that can afford to continuously raise distributions year after year will generate rising returns on investment for investors who were shrewd enough to select it at the right time. The consistency of dividend increases ensures that investors can live off that income stream and attain financial independence.

Below, I have highlighted 12 cash machines that announced dividend increases during the past week. All of the companies listed below have raised distributions for at least five consecutive years:

Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BF.B) engages in manufacturing, bottling, importing, exporting and marketing alcoholic beverages. The company raised its quarterly dividend by 9.4% to 35 cents per share. This marked the 28th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend champion. Yield: 1.9% (analysis)

Sysco Corporation (NYSE:SYY), through its subsidiaries, engages in the marketing and distribution of a range of food and related products primarily to the food service or food-away-from-home industry. The company raised its quarterly dividend by 3.8% to 36 cents per share. This marked the 10th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend champion. Yield: 4% (analysis)

National Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:NKSH) operates as the holding company for the National Bank of Blacksburg, a chartered national bank that provides a range of retail and commercial banking services to individuals, businesses, nonprofits and local governments in Virginia. The company raised its semi-annual dividend by 8.3% to 52 cents per share. This marked the 12th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend achiever. The company has raised dividends two times in the past year. Yield: 4%

The Laclede Group, Inc. (NYSE:LG), through its subsidiaries, engages in the retail distribution, sale and marketing of natural gas. The company raised its quarterly dividend by 2.5% to 41.5 cents per share. This marked the ninth consecutive annual dividend increase for the stock. Yield: 4%

Williams Companies, Inc. (NYSE:WMB), through its subsidiaries, engages in finding, producing, gathering, processing and transporting natural gas primarily in the United States. The company raised its quarterly dividend by 25% to 25 cents per share. This marked the second dividend increase this year for Williams Companies, which has raised distributions for eight years in a row. Yield: 3.3%


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