Dividend Stocks for the Week

Companies such as Strayer and Digital Realty recently boosted their dividends.
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By Jonas Elmerraji

BALTIMIORE (

TheStreet

) -- Up one day and down the next -- it seems as though investors can't make up their minds. But when the stock market churns and volatility spikes, they can still find solace in dividends. That's because investing in income stocks is one of the few ways to collect earnings from a portfolio when the market isn't moving higher.

The companies that actually increase their dividends during a tough economy send an even stronger signal to investors. With cash hard to part with when business is slow, management's decision to let shareholders have a bigger cut tells Wall Street that a company is in good enough financial shape to weather the storm.

Income investors aren't the only people who should focus on companies that hike their dividends. Historically, companies that pay dividends materially outperform those that don't, and when the market turns bearish, dividends could be the only semblance of return that investors see for a while.

That's why every week Stockpickr reviews recent dividend declarations and compiles a portfolio of

dividend-increasers

. These stocks represent some of the most enticing investments on the market right now.

As real estate values have fallen through the floor, real estate investment trusts have been eschewed by risk-averse investors. But after increasing its dividend 25% to 45 cents per share,

Digital Realty

(DLR) - Get Report

is beginning to attract investor attention once again. The REIT focuses on the technology niche, buying properties such as data centers in such tech-centric places as Silicon Valley and Northern Virginia.

The company has also been finding new data centers to add to its portfolio of 75 properties in this real estate buyer's market. That's a potentially prescient move as industry reports suggest that up to 50% of tech firms will have outgrown their data-center needs by the end of the year.

One of the funds that's kept faith in Digital Realty is the

CGM Realty Fund

(CGMRX), rated five stars by Morningstar, which has delivered investors nearly 15% annually for the last 15 years. The fund also owns stakes in

Simon Property Group

(SPG) - Get Report

, with a dividend yield of 0.71%, and

LaSalle Hotel Properties

(LHO)

, with a yield of 0.24%.

Digital Realty was trading down 0.34% early in Tuesday's trading and now offers investors a 4.05% dividend yield.

This year's contraction in the job market has forced a lot of candidates to rethink their resumes -- a tough reality for job hunters that's been a huge win for alternative higher-ed companies such as

Strayer Education

(STRA) - Get Report

. Last week Strayer announced that it was increasing its dividend payout by 50% to 75 cents per share for shareholders of record on Nov. 24. That's a telling move for Strayer, which has seen its revenues increase by 29% in the last year.

Because the majority of Strayer's students have full-time jobs and are over 31 years old, the company is less susceptible to dropouts over financial issues. And with student loan exposure well below any of its competitors, the company is one of the best avenues into the for-profit education industry.

Strayer is a holding of

Lone Pine Capital

, a privately-owned $7 billion hedge fund sponsor founded in 1997 by Stephen Mandel. Lone Pine also holds stakes in

Las Vegas Sands

(LVS) - Get Report

and the

SPDR Gold Trust ETF

(GLD) - Get Report

.

Shares of Strayer Education were trading up 0.34% early in Tuesday's trading and now sport a 1.47% dividend yield.

For the rest of this week's dividend stocks, including

VF Corp.

(VFC) - Get Report

and

NuStar Energy

(NS) - Get Report

, check out the

Dividend Stocks for the Week portfolio

on Stockpickr.

And if you haven't already done so,

join Stockpickr

today to create your own dividend portfolio.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.

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Stockpickr is a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com.

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

Jonas Elmerraji, based out of Baltimore, is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on MSNBC.com.