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Dividends and Buybacks: These Firms Make the Cut

The granddaddy of them all in terms of size is Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report). The oil giant has reduced shares outstanding by 5.1% over the past year, and currently yields 2.6%. The company has grown its dividend by 8.3% over the past seven years.

XOM Dividend Chart XOM Dividend data by YCharts

Intel (INTC - Get Report), which currently yields 3.4% and has reduced its shares outstanding by 5.1% over the past year also made the cut. The company still has nearly $13.65 billion in cash and short-term investments on the books.

INTC Dividend Chart INTC Dividend data by YCharts

Just one restaurant name qualified: Darden (DRI - Get Report). The company's dividend has grown from 4 cents quarterly in 2005 to 50 cents last month, for a solid 3.7% indicated yield.

DRI Dividend Chart DRI Dividend data by YCharts

Other companies meeting the criteria include Conoco Phillips (COP); retailers Lowe's (LOW), Walgreen (WAG) and Safeway (SWY); and aerospace and defense names Lockheed Martin (LMT), Raytheon (RTM) ), Northrop Grumman (NOC) and L-3 Communications (LLL).

Also included are railroad companies CSX (CSX) and Norfolk Southern (NSC) and insurers Travelers (TRV), Chubb (CB) and Assurant (AIZ).

Rounding out the list are Ameriprise Financial (AMP), McGraw-Hill (MHP) and Becton Dickinson (BDX).

My work is not done here yet. The next step will be to identify some smaller names that are also buying back shares and giving back to shareholders.

At the time of publication the author had no holdings in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Jonathan Heller, CFA, is president of KEJ Financial Advisors, his fee-only financial planning company. Jon spent 17 years at Bloomberg Financial Markets in various roles, from 1989 until 2005. He ran Bloomberg's Equity Fundamental Research Department from 1994 until 1998, when he assumed responsibility for Bloomberg's Equity Data Research Department. In 2001, he joined Bloomberg's Publishing group as senior markets editor and writer for Bloomberg Personal Finance Magazine, and an associate editor and contributor for Bloomberg Markets Magazine. In 2005, he joined SEI Investments as director of investment communications within SEI's Investment Management Unit.

Jon is also the founder of the Cheap Stocks Web site, a site dedicated to deep-value investing. He has an undergraduate degree from Grove City College and an MBA from Rider University, where he has also served on the adjunct faculty; he is also a CFA charter holder.
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