5 Companies Getting Ready to Hike Dividends in 2013

BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- It may not feel like it, but now is a great time to be a dividend investor.

Sure, investor anxiety remains high for stocks. And sure, interest rates being held near zero doesn't bode well for any income investors, let alone equity income seekers. But the reality is that corporate cash and profitability are sitting at record levels at the same time that yields on stocks are already better than they've been any time in the last two decades.

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With earnings season still in full swing right now, there are some big opportunities to step in front of dividend hikes in the first quarter. That's why we're zooming in on five companies that look primed to hike their dividends in the next quarter.

In other words, these five firms are getting ready to boost dividends; they just don't know it yet.

In the past few months we've had some stellar success in finding future dividend hikes just by zeroing in on a few key factors. Now we'll look at our crystal ball and try to do it again.

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For our purposes, that "crystal ball" is composed of a few factors: namely a solid balance sheet, a low payout ratio, and a history of dividend hikes. While those items don't guarantee dividend announcements in the next month or three, they do dramatically increase the odds that management will hike their cash payouts, especially as investors start to get antsy about whether or not 2013's rally will be able to hang on.

Without further ado, here's a look at five stocks that could be about to increase their dividend payments in the next quarter.

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