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3. RGC Resources (RGCO)

Forward yield: 3.9%

RGC is a natural-gas utility serving roughly 57,000 customers across Virginia through operating subsidiaries that include Roanoke Gas Co., Diversified Energy Co. and RGC Ventures of Virginia. This steady performer has been paying dividends for more than 60 years.

RGC's earnings rose 3% from one year earlier to $4.65 million, or $1.01 per share in the fiscal year ended Sept.30 . This was mainly the result of increased natural-gas deliveries to industrial customers and a recent service rate increase.

In late November, RGC raised the dividend by 3% to a $0.70 annual rate. The new dividend rate will be paid on Feb.1, 2012, to shareholders of record on Jan.16, 2012.

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