BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- We're continuing 2011's trend for dividend performance in the past week, with 35 companies announcing increases in their payouts to shareholders.
While that doesn't quite meet up to the 43 dividend increases we saw the previous week, it's important to remember that last week's number was the biggest instance of dividend increases in more than a year. If anything, the fact that dividends continue to be on the rise is an auspicious signal for investors because it suggests that companies are becoming confident enough in the current economic situation to part with their precious cash.
For income investors, that suggests an even bigger trend is in the works. History shows that when dividends rise, investors should pay attention. 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 while that statistic applies to all companies that pay dividends, the companies that increase those dividend payouts over time are even better.Related: 4 Earnings Trades for the Week Each week, we take a look at companies that are actively increasing their dividend payouts to shareholders. Without further ado, here's a look at this week's dividend stocks. Dun & Bradstreet The past year has brought strong stock performance for shareholders of Dun & Bradstreet (DNB), the $4.2 billion firm that provides commercial information on businesses as well as risk management and marketing solutions to its clients; shares of the company rose more than 15% in the trailing 12 months. That performance has spurred management to increase the company's quarterly dividend payout by 2.9% to 36 cents per share. While that dividend hike may not sound enormous, it's the latest in a string of consistent increases that the company has undertaken since 2007. D&B even maintained its payouts through the roughest patches of the recession. By far, D&B's biggest asset is its commercial database of businesses, which other firms use to rate the creditworthiness of potential partners, competitors, and clients. As a result, the company manages to deliver massive cash generation abilities -- nearly 20% margins and minimal noncash income statement items are big contributors to that.
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