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Busy Week For Dividend Increases

 January 22, 2010 02:53 PM

January is typically a busy month for dividend increases. The past week has most probably accounted for the majority of the increases for the month already. Increasing a company's dividend for another consecutive year reflects management's strong financial position and their confidence in the long-term growth opportunity of the company. I have summarized the increases by several types – dividend aristocrats and achievers, Berkshire Hathaway Holdings and potential dividend achievers.

[Related -Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (FDO): More Headwinds Than Tailwinds In Near-Term]

Dividend Aristocrats and Achievers

The dividend aristocrats list includes companies which have increased dividends for over 25 years in a row. It is equally weighted and re-balanced once a year. To become a dividend achiever a company must have increased its annual regular dividend payments for the last ten or more consecutive years.

Consolidated Edison, Inc. (ED), which provides electric, gas, and steam utility services in the United States, increased its quarterly dividend by 0.85% to 59.50 cents per share. Consolidated Edison, Inc. is a dividend aristocrat, which has increased its quarterly dividend for thirty-six consecutive years. The stock currently yields 5.10%. (analysis)

McGraw-Hill Companies (MHP), which provides information services and products to the financial services, education, and business information markets worldwide, increased its quarterly dividend by 4.40% to 23.50 cents per share. This is the 37th consecutive annual dividend increase for this dividend aristocrat. McGraw-Hill also announced that it will buy back over time the 17.1 million shares remaining in its share repurchase program approved by the Board in 2007. The stock currently yields 2.70%. (analysis)

Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (FDO), which operates a chain of self-service retail discount stores for low to lower-middle income consumers in the United States, increased its quarterly dividend by 14.80% to 15.50 cents per share. Family Dollar Stores, Inc. is a dividend aristocrat, which has increased its quarterly dividend in each of the past thirty-four consecutive years. The stock currently yields 2.00%.

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