BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- There's no question about it -- if you own stocks, then dividends are critical for your success as an investor.
Sure, it's been another solid year for stocks, but since the calendar flipped to 2014, dividends have actually contributed nearly a third of the total returns in the big stock indices like the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Translation: even if you don't consider yourself an "income investor," ignore dividends at your own peril.
And that's not likely to change anytime soon.
With record cash on corporate balance sheets, and the Fed exerting downward pressure on interest rates, management teams are getting more bang for their buck by hiking dividend payouts to shareholders. As a result, investors can expect to see the record dividend payouts today keep ratcheting higher in the quarter ahead.
So far, dividend payouts in the S&P 500 are up 14% versus last year.
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, 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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