Dividend stocks update: Some 209 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index have raised their dividends so far this year, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.
The average increase has been 15%, with an exclusive bunch doubling disbursements. And, with S&P components sitting on $1.1 trillion in cash, according to FactSet, more increases are expected.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) dominated last week's dividend news. The Minnetonka, Minn., company boosted its quarterly dividend 34%, or nearly a dime, to $0.375 per share. That's good for a yield just shy of 1.9%, matching the average yield of S&P 500 members.
UNH's increase triples the initial payout value the nation's largest health insurer initiated in 2010. Four years ago, UNH became the first U.S. health insurer to offer more than a nominal payout to investors with its four-times-a-year disbursement of $0.125 per share.
Since then, UNH has increased dividends by roughly 30% annually, as its stock price increased. Indeed, UNH shares have risen nearly 30% over the last 12 months.
A total of 27 dividend stocks sweetened payouts last week. Following are 20 more notable increases for the week ending June 6.
Dividend-Paying Stocks That Just Hiked Payouts
Avago Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: AVGO) upped its quarterly payout $0.02 to $0.29 a share for a 1.51% yield. Friday, the semiconductor's shares hit an all-time high of $72.35.
CatchMark Timber Trust Inc. (NYSE: CTT) raised its quarterly distribution 13.6% to $0.125 a share for a 3.67% yield. "Continuing to grow our dividend through an acquisition strategy remains a key strategic imperative for the company," Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jerry Barag said in a statement. "We continue to build our pipeline of potential acquisitions focused in the U.S. South, where we see the best value opportunities, and the increase in our available credit capacity should facilitate closing on additional transitions expeditiously."
Delaware Investments National Municipal Income Fund (NYSE: VFL) increased its monthly payout 8.3% to $0.065 per share for a yield of 6.02%.
Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd. (NYSE ADR: RDY) hiked its annual dividend 23.7% to $0.30 per share for a yield approaching 1%. Hopes are running high for a solid rally in the Hyderabad, India, drug giant's shares. Last week, the country's central bank struck a more dovish tone and sent Indian equities to a new record high.
If you aren't a Money Morning Member, sign up now for free to see the 15 more dividend stocks that raised payouts last week. You'll also get this report with three superior dividend picks: The Best Dividend Strategy for Building Fortune in a Low-Yield Era
El Paso Electric Co. (NYSE: EE) raised its quarterly dividend 5.7% to $0.28 per share for a 2.9% yield.
FEI Co. (Nasdaq: FEIC) fattened its quarterly dividend 108.3%, or $0.13, to a quarter a share for a 1.15% yield. "FEI initiated a dividend two years ago at $0.08 per share and increased it by over 50% last year," Don Kania, CEO of the scientific instrument supplier, said in a statement. "Now we have increased it by 108% to an annualized $1.00 per share. This increase in the cash dividend, combined with our organic growth initiatives, strategic acquisitions and ongoing share repurchases, underscores our commitment to enhance shareholder value over the long term."
Helmerich & Payne Inc. (NYSE: HP) hiked its quarterly payout 10% to $0.68 per share for a 2.46% yield. The oil-drilling giant has been paying dividends since 1959, with a near 10-fold increase in payouts since the end of 2012.
Invesco Trust for Investment Grade Municipals (NYSE: VGM) raised its monthly dividend 1.4% to $0.074 a share for a 6.77% yield.
Invesco Municipal Trust (NYSE: VKQ) increased its monthly distribution 2.6% to $0.068 a share for a 6.55% yield.
John Hancock Income Securities Trust (NYSE: JHS) juiced its quarterly payout 5.5% to $0.23 a share for a 6.54% yield.
John Hancock Investors Trust (NYSE: JHI) boosted its quarterly dividend 11.9% to $0.41 a share for a near 8% yield.
Lowe's Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) increased its quarterly dividend a nickel to $0.23 a share for a yield just shy of 2%. The home improvement company last improved its quarterly dividend in May 2013 by 12.5% to $0.18 a share.
Access your Money Morning Member Analysis: Over time you can make more money in dividends than you paid to buy the stocks that produce them. Get today's best dividend strategy for building wealth in the low-yield era.
MFS Government Markets Income Trust (NYSE: MGF) moved its monthly dividend up 0.5% to $0.03 a share for a 7.86% yield.
Nuveen Core Equity Alpha Fund (NYSE: JCE) upped its quarterly payout 8.2% to $0.30 a share for a 6.68% yield.
Nuveen Diversified Dividend & Income Fund (NYSE: JDD) raised its quarterly payout a penny to $0.26 a share for an 8.43% yield.
Nuveen Tax-Advantaged Dividend Growth Fund (NYSE: JTD) boosted its dividend 8.1% to $0.30 a share for a 7.53% yield.
Royce Micro Capital Trust Inc. (NYSE: RMT) raised its quarterly dividend a penny to $0.24 a share for a 7.75% yield.
Sabine Royalty Trust (NYSE: SBR) sweetened its monthly payout 6.3% to $0.42 a share for a 6.88% yield.
Swiss Helvetia Fund Inc. (NYSE: SWZ) increased its semi-annual dividend 21.2% to $0.04 a share for a 0.55% yield.
Zweig Total Return Fund Inc. (NYSE: ZTR) hiked its monthly payout 1.1% to $0.091 a share for a 7.56% yield.
Today's Top Story: There's more trouble ahead for home buyers, home builders, and especially homeowners who took out home-equity lines of credit before the housing crisis. And this could put the housing market - and the economy - in jeopardy. But we found a way to profit massively from this "margin call" on American homeowners...