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7 Dividend Stocks Hiking Payouts in February

Cisco Systems

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First up is $107.5 billion computer networking giant Cisco Systems (CSCO), the largest-cap stock to announce a dividend hike in the trailing week. Cisco has ridden a bit of a roller coaster in the last year, losing more than a third of its value by August before rebounding again in early 2012. But while share prices have been somewhat volatile, dividend payouts have been consistent since the firm announced its first dividend in 2011.

While the company still sports a modest yield at 1.2%, a 33.33% increase in the firm's payout announced on Tuesday sets a solid precedent for further hikes.

Cisco's toehold on the enterprise networking market is the firm's biggest competitive advantage right now. While there are other companies that sell things like routers and switches, Cisco's huge installed base means that customers who want to avoid compatibility headaches are more likely to stick with Cisco. That's not infinitely sustainable, however, as large-scale systems upgrades are standard, and lower-cost competitors could capture a bigger chunk of the market. Cisco will need to continue to innovate in the industry if it wants to incentivize enterprise IT managers to continue to use its offerings.

While there was considerable potential in Cisco's consumer business, the firm has unceremoniously shifted its focus back to its core competency, shuttering its Flip camera business in the process. Even if the move is good for Cisco's bottom line in the near-term, the company could be leaving long-term money on the table by not staying competitive in the consumer market. A more balanced approach would be welcomed by investors.

Cisco's dividend yield hardly qualifies it as a core income holding, however for investors who want to buy this networking firm anyway, the payout provides some nice added value.

Cisco, one of the top-yielding computer hardware stocks, shows up on a recent list of 3 Tech Turnaround Stocks for 2012. I also featured it recently in " 5 Rocket Stocks to Buy This Week."

Stock quotes in this article: CSCO, OXY, UPS, MMM, MA, FCX, APA 

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