$56 billion drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY) has had a strong year in 2011; shareholders have seen their stakes appreciate more than 25% since the first trading day of January. Now management is upping the ante, hiking the firm's quarterly dividend by 3.03% to 34 cents per share. While that doesn't sound like much of an increase, BMY is already a perennially high-yielding stock (and one of the top-yielding drug stocks). Shares currently pay out a 4.08% yield on current share price levels. Bristol's pharmaceutical pipeline puts it a step ahead of most of its peers. The firm treats its pipeline like any good portfolio manager, diversifying away the risks of failure though exposure to a significant number of treatments as well as partnerships with peer firms.
Like most big pharma names, however, Bristol isn't immune from the patent drop-offs that are plaguing drug developers in the next several years. The firm will need to push its late-stage pipeline along if it wants to mitigate that downside. Financially, Bristol-Myers Squibb is in solid shape, with a deep net cash position and considerable free cash flow generation abilities. That should secure the firm's hefty dividend payout going forward. One big bet on Bistol-Myers comes from Renaissance Technologies, which owns 3.2 million shares of the stock as of the most recently reported quarter.