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Dividend Stocks Raising Payouts

(Top dividend stocks for 2011 report updated with AT&T's loss of exclusive rights to Apple's iPhone and broker action on Monsanto.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- AT&T (T), Pfizer (PFE) and Monsanto (MON) joined a roster of companies raising their shareholder payouts in recent weeks.

>>Dec. 13: 10 Top Dividend Stocks Increasing Payouts

Dividend activity has picked up in recent months as companies begin to regain some sense of stability in the state of the economy, and visibility of future earnings growth. The iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend (DVY), an exchange-traded fund that tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Select Dividend Index, is up around 14% in 2010. The WisdomTree LargeCap Dividend Fund (DLN) ETF is up nearly 12% this year.

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 National Data Research.

Dividend investing is "a sustainable strategy that will be a key driver for performance and total return in 2011," said Lawrence Glazer, Managing Partner with Mayflower Advisors, in a recent appearance on CNBC. Glazer encouraged investors to reconsider top dividend-paying "Dogs of the Dow" such as Verizon (VZ), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Merck (MRK) and Kraft Foods (KFT), blue chips that have offered decades of dividend increases and sustainable payouts, many with stronger yields than 10-year treasury notes.

Verizon, which recently increased its quarterly dividend by 2.6% to 48.75 cents per share, offers an annualized dividend yield of around 5.51%; Johnson & Johnson 3.47%, Merck 4.18% and Kraft 3.64%.

Glazer also tapped the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend and iShares Dow Jones International Select Dividend Index Fund (IDV) ETFs as deserving of consideration for a sound investment strategy that includes diversification plus additional tax efficiency. The DVY yields around 3.4%; the IDV around 4.3%.

Here then is a breakdown of 10 dividend stocks increasing their shareholder payouts in recent weeks, ranked by average daily volume.

(Dividend data was supplied by Ex-Dividend.com.)

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