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Investors had a banner year in 2013 – especially those holding dividend stocks.
For all of 2013, dividend increases totaled a hefty $56.7 billion. That's up from $50.2 billion in 2011.
Among the 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks, 14 dividend-paying stocks boosted their payouts in 2013: AT&T Inc. (NTSE: T), The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS), McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD), Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM), Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), United Tech. Corp. (NYSE: UTX), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and Visa Inc. (NYSE: V).
Yet company payout ratios – dividends as a percentage of net income – are still low. Companies are currently shelling out just 36% of what they bring in compared to the historic average of 52%.
That means investors should expect 2014 to be another good year to buy dividend-paying stocks.
Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, told Barron's he expects Q1 "to be a very busy, positive period for dividends," with 2014 setting another record for dividend payments.
Following are the most notable dividend increases of 2014 to date.
15 Dividend-Paying Stocks That Just Hiked Their Payouts
Bank of the Ozarks Inc. (Nasdaq: OZRK) increased its quarterly payout 4.8% to $0.22 a share, up from $0.22. Shares yield 1.48%.
BP Prudhome Bay Royalty Trust (NYSE: BPT) upped its quarterly dividend 16.6% to $2.52. Shares yield 11.57%.
BreitBurn Energy Partners LP (Nasdaq: BBEP) boosted its quarterly dividend 1% to $0.164 a share. Shares of the oil and gas exploration company limited partnership yield 9.55%.
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Cal-Main Foods Inc. (Nasdaq: CALM) raised its quarterly dividend 430% to $0.36 a share from $0.06. The producer of specialty and organic egg products' stock yields 1.19%.
DDR Corp. (NYSE: DDR) increased its quarterly dividend 14.8% to $0.15 a share. Shares yield 4%.