BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- It seems that almost every investment manager is singing the praises of dividend-paying stocks for safety during tough economic times. But Rick Platte goes a step further and says investors ought to find companies that are increasing payouts.Platte, co-portfolio manager of the Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund ( AVEDX), says rising income will help offset inflation in the coming year. The 10-year U.S. Treasury is yielding only 2%, while the latest reading on inflation is a seasonally unadjusted 3.5%, meaning investors are losing money on government bonds.
Lowe's ( LOW) Company Profile: Lowe's is the home-improvement retail rival to Home Depot ( HD), with more than 1,700 stores in the U.S. Current Share Price: $24.05 (Nov. 29) Dividend Yield: 2.3% Platte's Take: Lowe's stock has endured a tumultuous year, rising as high as $27.45 earlier this year before dropping to a 52-week low of $18.07 in August. Shares have rallied back but are still down 4% this year. With an increasing dividend, Platte sees plenty of opportunity in Lowe's. "It's a stock that has been beaten up pretty badly. Building is held in such low repute right now. I hesitate to even say 'housing,' " Platte says. "But we view it as a well-run company that has exposure to building. Whether it's 2013 or 2014, housing will pick up. Houses need to be taken care of. In a pretty poor environment, they've actually done well. And they've increased their dividend through the hard times." Lowe's was the fifth largest position in the Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund as of Sept. 30, accounting for 3.2% of the portfolio's net assets.