NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Verizon Communications ( VZ) and Diageo ( DEO) joined a roster of companies raising their shareholder payouts recently.

Communications services provider Verizon said Thursday it increased its quarterly dividend by 2.6% to 48.75 cents per share, from 47.5 cents, marking its fourth consecutive year of quarterly dividend increases. The new dividend will be paid on Nov. 1 to shareholders of record on Oct. 8.

Diageo, the London-based maker of Johnnie Walker scotch, Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka, increased its payout by 6% to 23.5 pence (36.2 cents), and said it intends to increase dividend payments by at least 6% going forward, rather than the 5% increases it usually institutes.

HCC Insurance Holdings ( HCC), a Houston-based specialty insurance group, upped its cash dividend to 14.5 cents per share, from 13.5 cents, on its shares of $1.00 par value common stock. It was the 14th consecutive year of dividend increases. The new payout will be available on or around Oct. 15 to stockholders of record on Oct. 1.

Weyerhaeuser ( WY), the grower and harvester of timber and wood products, said Wednesday it issued a $5.6 billion special dividend as it moves to become a real estate investment trust. Paid Sept. 1 to shareholders of record on July 22, the special payout included 324 million shares of common stock and $560 million in cash. The dividend value per share was about $26.46 based on total shares outstanding on July 22.

Daxor ( DXR), a New York-based medical device manufacturer and biotechnology firm, increased its dividend to 25 cents per share, up 150% from its prior payout of 10 cents per share in June. The new dividend will be paid on Sept. 30 to shareholders of record on Sept. 15.

W. Va.-based regional bank United Bankshares ( UBSI) said it will pay a third-quarter dividend of 30 cents per share, a 3.4% increase from its prior payout of 29 cents per share. The dividend will be paid to shareholders of record as of Sept. 10.

Harris ( HRS), a communications and information technology company based in Melbourne, Fla., increased its quarterly cash dividend to 25 cents per share, up from 22 cents, to be paid Sept. 17 to shareholders of record on Sept. 8.

American Financial Group ( AFG), a property and casualty insurance provider in Cincinnati, raised its quarterly dividend by 18.2% to 16.25 cents per share, from 13.75 cents. It was American Financial Group's sixth consecutive year of dividend increases.

Golar LNG ( GLNG), a Bermuda-based operator of liquefied natural gas carriers and floating storage regasification units, proposed a cash dividend increase to 15 cents per share when it reported its interim results for the quarter ended June 30. It will be paid Sept. 27 to shareholders of record on Sept. 6. The firm also said it is targeting a normalized dividend of 25 cents per share for the third quarter. The company's board also proposed a further Golar Energy (GOLAF) stock dividend for the second quarter, where one Golar Energy share will be paid for every 7 shares held in Golar.

Toronto-based metal and mining investor Sentry Select Primary Metals (PME.TO) upped its monthly cash dividend per Class A share to 8.5 cents, from 7 cents, payable Oct. 15 to security holders of record on Sept. 30.

Alliance Financial ( ALNC), a financial holding company and provider of retail and commercial banking services, raised its quarterly dividend to 30 cents per share, up 7.1% from 28 cents per share paid in June. It will be paid Oct. 1 to shareholders of record on Sept. 17.

Mediasafe 1 Technologies (MFTH), an Israeli developer of patented technologies that prevent unauthorized administration of prescription medications, said it plans to issue and complete a forward stock split of 5-1 in the form of a stock dividend on its common shares, payable around Sept. 20 to shareholders of record on Sept. 17, subject to FINRA approval.

Elsewhere in the world of dividend payouts, Microsoft ( MSFT) is expected to increase its quarterly dividend next month. For the last eight quarters the software-making behemoth paid shareholders 13 cents per share on a quarterly basis.

"There's a record of them returning excess cash to shareholders," Patrick Becker Jr. at Becker Capital Management, a holder of the stock, told Reuters. "I don't think you'll see a special (dividend) out of them, but they will continue to raise the regular dividend and do share buybacks."

Finally, shares of Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance ( ARI) were upgraded by FBR Capital Markets to outperform from market perform after the REIT increased its dividend by 14% to 40 cents per share, from 35 cents, early last month. Its increased payout will be paid Oct. 12 to shareholders of record on Sept. 30. Apollo Commercial is a real estate investment trust that invests in commercial mortgage-backed securities, first mortgages, and mezzanine loans.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Miriam Reimer.

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