BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Dividends are cheap right now. And they aren't going to stay this cheap forever.
Right now, dividend value metrics are popping off the charts. Not only is the dividend yield of the S&P 500 still higher than it was anytime since the mid-1990s (safe for the absurd bargains floating around in 2009), the index's constituents are within a hair's breadth of paying out a bigger per-share annual dividend in 2012 than they've ever paid before.
And for the rest of the year, with the Fed pumping up the money supply by the $40 billion truckload, the premium income payouts that equities offer aren't going to last for long. Just look at the rally that's been going on since June -- if Mr. Market's trajectory is any indication of things to come, the dividend deals aren't going to stick around.But chasing yield is only one way to take advantage of cheap dividends this fall. Stepping in front of dividend hikes is probably a better one. That's exactly why we're scouring the stock market for a new group of big-name stocks that look ready to hike their dividend payouts in the coming quarter. In other words, these five firms are getting ready to boost dividends; they just don't know it yet. >>5 Stocks Hedge Funds Hate -- But Should You? For our purposes, that "crystal ball" is composed of a few factors: namely a solid balance sheet, a low payout ratio, and a history of dividend hikes. While those items don't guarantee dividend announcements in the next month or three, they do dramatically increase the odds that management will hike their cash payouts, especially as investors start to get antsy about this late-2012 rally. And the number of dividend hikes we've already been able to predict with this same approach speaks volumes. Without further ado, here's a look at five stocks that could be about to increase their dividend payments in the next quarter.