TJX

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The past year has shown some stellar performance for retailer TJX ( TJX), the firm behind chains such as T.J. Maxx, Marshall's and HomeGoods. Shares of the firm have rallied more than 43% in the last 12 months, spurred on by fundamental success in its brick-and-mortar stores.

On Wednesday, management announced a 21% increase in its quarterly dividend, bringing it to 11.5 cents per share. That's the 16th straight year of dividend hikes for TJX shareholders.

TJX is a league leader in off-price retail. The firm's stores stock major brand name clothing, accessories and housewares at prices that are fairly dramatic discounts to their retail costs, a model that's proven popular in the shadow of a major global recession.

TJX has reasonable pricing power with consumers -- if retail prices rise, so too can the discounted price tags on TJX's shelves. At the same time, full-price retailers need TJX because the firm is willing to buy massive swaths of excess inventory.

Full-price retailers can bypass the middle-man by opting to sell last season's fashions at their own outlet stores, but for most it's not a feasible model. Retail is extremely capital intense, and TJX provides a top-line boost to its suppliers with zero risk. Those factors should keep quality inventory flowing to TJX's stores for the foreseeable future.

To be clear, the firm's 1.06% yield hardly makes it a core income holding. That said, for exposure to discount retail, the firm is hard to beat.

TJX, one of Goldman Sachs' Consumer Stock Best Buys for 2012, shows up on a list of 19 "Dividend Opportunity"Stocks.

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