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10 Dividend Stocks Increasing Payouts

(Dividend stocks increasing payouts report updated with news about Chevron's (CVX - Get Report) acquisition of natural-gas prospects in Pennsylvania, the FTC's approval of Dow Chemical's (DOW - Get Report) amended agreement with Huntsman (HUN - Get Report), Williams' (WMB - Get Report) quarterly results, and an investigation into Arch Coal's (ACI - Get Report) acquisition of International Coal Group (ICO))
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- General Electric (GE), Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) have joined a roster of companies raising their dividends in recent weeks .

Dividend activity has picked up in recent months and, according to Howard Silverblatt at Standard & Poor's, the first four months of dividend increases in 2011 have already surpassed total dividend increases for the full year of 2010.

The iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend (DVY), an exchange-traded fund that tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Select Dividend Index, is up nearly 8% year to date. The WisdomTree LargeCap Dividend Fund (DLN) ETF is up more than 9% so far in 2011.

The dividend universe has been out of favor for most retail investors the last few years, Lawrence Glazer, managing partner with Mayflower Advisors, said recently. The pendulum, however, has turned back toward the investment strategy lately as market watchers hedge against inflation and look for rising income streams.

Glazer told TheStreet that Europe- and U.S.-based large-cap dividend payers "are back in vogue now, relative to what was working last year." He said that for risk-averse investors trying to generate higher less-volatile returns -- but not necessarily beat the market -- investing in developed dividend payers makes a lot of sense.

Glazer suggested investors consider the " Dogs of the Dow ," the highest-yielding stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, namely Verizon (VZ), Johnson & Johnson, Merck (MRK) and Kraft Foods (KFT) -- blue chips that will generate higher returns than 10-year Treasury notes and which carry "the best balance sheets in the world."

To capture a proxy for domestic dividend-paying stocks, Glazer suggested considering ETFs like the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend or SPDR S&P Dividend (SDY), and for international dividend payers, the iShares Dow Jones International Select Dividend Index Fund (IDV). The latter boasts a higher yield, he said, and "speaks to the idea of getting paid to go outside the U.S. and take on a little more risk." For a long-term sustainable dividend income, Glazer advised to look at an ETF like the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation (VIG). Its yield is only around 2%, but "investors need to think about total return and appreciation potential," Glazer said.

Click on for a roundup of 10 dividend stocks increasing their shareholder payouts in recent weeks, ranked by average daily volume.... (Yields are based on May 2 closing prices.)

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