BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- I don't know anything about your shot at getting a raise at work, but when it comes to getting a raise from your stock portfolio, your chances are looking good this year.
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In fact, despite this record low interest rate environment, 2014 has been a spectacular time to be an income investor. As I write, companies in the S&P 500 are sitting on more than $1.53 trillion in corporate cash on their balance sheets -- and those low rates are spurring management either to put that mountain of cash to good use or to give it back to shareholders. That's why dividend payouts are up more than 14% versus last year.
And it's why dividends have made up more than a quarter of the S&P's total returns in 2014.
Stocks currently pay out a higher premium over the U.S. 10 Year Treasuries than any other time in recent memory, and that premium only stands to grow as companies deploy more cash for dividend payouts. Likewise, the Fed's likely next move in this environment should help spur capital gains for investors in high-yield dividend paying companies.
Translation: Income investors should stick to dividend stocks.
To find the biggest benefit from dividends, it's not enough to simply buy names with big payouts today. You've got to think about what they'll be paying tomorrow too. So instead of chasing yield, we'll try to step in front of the next round of stock payout hikes.
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 to shareholders. And they've helped us grab onto dividend hikes with a high success rate in the past.
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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