BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Yes, you've heard it before: 2013 has been a great year for stocks. And it's been an especially stellar year has been for dividend stocks in particular. In the last 12 months, the S&P 500's dividend payouts have increased by 9.6% to new all-time highs.
For the first time in the last 40 years, the S&P 500's dividend payout is actually above the yield you can get from five-year Treasuries. That really speaks to the income-investability of equities right now.
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And the stage is set for even more dividend hikes in 2014.
As I write, the companies that make up the S&P 500 currently hold more cash than they ever have before -- around $1.25 trillion at last count. Even better, they added a whopping $102 billion to their coffers just last quarter; that's more than any other quarter since 2009. And with limited options to deploy those mammoth cash reserves right now, dividends continue to be an obvious choice.
To take advantage of that trend today, were focusing on dividend stocks that look ready to hike their payouts. So instead of chasing yield, well try to step in front of the next round of stock payout hikes.
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.
Without further ado, here's a look at five stocks that could be about to increase their dividend payments in the next quarter.