NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Intel ( INTC), Schlumberger ( SLB) and International Paper ( IP) joined a roster of companies raising their dividends in recent weeks.
Dividend activity has picked up in recent months as companies begin to regain some sense of stability in the state of the economy, and visibility of future earnings growth. The iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend ( DVY), an exchange-traded fund that tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Select Dividend Index, is up around 0.6% year-to-date. The WisdomTree LargeCap Dividend Fund ( DLN) ETF is up nearly 1% so far in 2011. >> 10 Top Dividend Stocks for 2011 "Dividend-paying stocks can provide a positive return on investment that can be used to counteract a negative price appreciation," Chris Hobart, president and CEO of Hobart Financial Group in Charlotte, NC, told TheStreet. "Historically, dividend-paying stocks are not as volatile as other stocks. Because of the added benefit of a reliable dividend return, the investor faces less risk." Hobart added that "due to the income incentive that the dividend provides, these stocks are even more valuable to an income-generating portfolio and can help in planning for monetary demands at various points of retirement." Dividend investing is "a sustainable strategy that will be key driver for performance and total return in 2011," said Lawrence Glazer, managing partner with Mayflower Advisors, in a recent appearance on CNBC. Glazer encouraged investors to reconsider top dividend-paying "Dogs of the Dow" such as Verizon ( VZ), Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), Merck ( MRK) and Kraft Foods ( KFT), blue-chips that have offered decades of dividend increases and sustainable payouts, many with stronger yields than 10-year treasury notes. Glazer also tapped the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend and iShares Dow Jones International Select Dividend Index Fund ( IDV) ETFs as deserving of consideration for a sound investment strategy that includes diversification plus additional tax efficiency. Here then is a breakdown of 10 dividend stocks increasing their shareholder payouts in recent weeks, ranked by average daily volume. (Dividend data was supplied by Ex-Dividend.com. Yields are based on Jan. 25 closing prices.)