NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Time Warner ( TWX) has joined a growing number of companies that have begun raising their dividends, in an indicator of increased confidence in economic recovery -- and a sign that dividend payouts might well take off in 2010.

Time Warner on Wednesday increased its dividend 13.3% to an annual 85 cents a share from 75 cents a share after swinging to earnings in the fourth quarter. The company's studio and networks posted record profits in the fourth quarter.

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Time Warner joins a growing list of companies that are raising their dividend payouts. This holds in stark contrast to their reticence about raising -- or even paying out -- dividends over the last two years, as the credit crunch and general economic uncertainty prevailed.

Just one day before, News Corp. ( NWSA - Get Report) also made a similar announcement, declaring a rather bold 25% dividend increase, while the Washington Post ( WPO) recently increased its annual dividend by 4.7% to $9 a share, while adding that the company would buy up to 750,000 shares of Class B common stock.

These moves, of course, come even as the advertising climate remains challenging -- to put it mildly -- for media companies.

Also, Kimberly Clark ( KMB - Get Report) announced that it expects a healthy increase in dividends and to continue with its share repurchasing program. This came after Kimberly Clark announced a 17% increase in fourth-quarter earnings.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Hershey ( HSY - Get Report) announced that it boosted its quarterly dividend 7.6% to 32 cents a share after reporting that its fourth-quarter profit jumped 54%.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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