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Dividend Stocks: Altria, G&K Services, Bob Evans

BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Dividend yields continue to creep up in the second half of 2010, spurred on by strong earnings performance (and subsequent dividend increases) and equity prices that are under siege.

Of particular interest is the uptick in small-cap dividend hikes that last week brought. Of the seven companies that announced higher payouts to shareholders during the last full week of August, all but one had market caps of less than $2 billion. As companies of all shapes and sizes start passing more cash to shareholders, investors should find comfort in being bullish once again.

With that in mind, it's time to take a closer look at few of the companies that announced dividend increases last week. Now is as good a time as ever for dividend plays, with yields as high as ever on some of the world's most attractive stocks.

Historically, dividend stocks are a good place to be. Over the last 36 years, dividend stocks outperformed the rest of the S&P 500 by 2.5% annually, and they outperformed nonpayers by nearly 8% every year, all while paying out cash to their shareholders, according to a study from NDR. And right now, companies that are willing to part with cash in arguably tough times are worth a second look.

That said, here's a look at this week's dividend stocks.
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