Top 5 Dividend Increases For July

As the summer season officially gets under way, most investors are busy planning their next vacation instead of their next stock purchase.
But if you snooze, you lose. A number of stocks are upping their dividends in July. It’s a key opportunity for investors to pick up some interesting dividend-paying stocks for cheap   ̶   and just before their dividends climb.
But more importantly, you can’t overlook the importance of dividends in your portfolio. Over the last 10 years, the S&P 500 is up 64%, while the total return   ̶   which includes dividends   ̶   is up over 100%.
Still, the bigger key is finding stocks that are consistently upping their dividends and consistently reward shareholders. These stocks have a tendency to outperform the market, which can do wonders for your portfolio over the long-term.
Over the last year alone, the S&P 500 has fallen 3%, while the PowerShares Dividend Achievers ETF (NYSE: PFM) is up 4%. The PowerShares Dividend Achievers ETF tracks stocks that have upped their dividends for 10 years or more.
With all that in mind, here are the top five dividend increases for the month of July:

Top Dividend Increases, No. 1: Marsh & McLennan (NYSE: MMC)

Marsh & McLennan pays a 2.1% dividend yield and is raising the quarterly dividend by 10% this month, which means it’ll soon be paying out 34 cents a month. The company has increased its dividend for six straight years.
This is a simple and steady business in the insurance industry. It operates globally and still has room to expand margins with its planned cost cuts. Marsh & McLennan also made our list of top insurance dividends from last year.
Shares trade ex-dividend on July 7.

Top Dividend Increases, No. 2: Cracker Barrel (NASDAQ: CBRL)

Cracker Barrel will pay shareholders $4.40 a share next month. This comes as it is upping its regular quarterly dividend by 5% to $1.15 a share. Plus, it will be paying a $3.25 per share special dividend.
The down-home restaurant chain offers a 2.7% regular dividend yield, but with the special dividend, its pro forma dividend yield for the year is 4.6%. Cracker Barrel has a six-year streak of consecutive dividend increases and the stock trades at a slight discount to other major restaurant stocks like Denny’s (NASDAQ: DENN) and Bob Evans (NASDAQ: BOBE).
Shares trade ex-dividend July 13.

Top Dividend Increases, No. 3: Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW)

This home-improvement retailer will raise its quarterly dividend by a solid 25% in July   ̶   soon paying out 35 cents a share each quarter. Its dividend yield stands at 1.8% and Lowe’s has a 50-year streak of consecutive dividend increases.
Lowe’s has a strong balance sheet and generates strong free cash, but more importantly, it’s a great play on the continued boom in housing. Plus, it’s levered to the home remodeling market, which could see an uptick thanks to higher employment and wages.
Shares trade ex-dividend July 18.

Top Dividend Increase No. 4: Pentair (NYSE: PNR)

Pentair is raising its dividend by a mere 3% in July, but it’s still an underrated dividend payer. Pentair’s  dividend yield stands at 2.4% and it has a 39-year streak of consecutive dividend increases. Plus, it’s paying out just around 30% of its earnings via dividends.
The company makes water and electrical devices. Its ERICO acquisition has the opportunity to boost revenues thanks to a greater stronghold in technical solutions.
Pentair shares trade ex-dividend July 20.

Top Dividend Increases, No. 5: Clorox (NYSE: CLX)

This consumer staples stock is upping its quarterly dividend by 4% to 80 cents a share. Clorox is now paying a 2.4% dividend yield. The company, despite being over a century old, continues to innovate the basic of products, like trash bags and bleach.
Thanks to this innovation, Clorox has managed to raise its dividend for 38 straight years. There’s more to come as well, as it expands other products, such as Burt’s Bees, into other areas like face and body.
Clorox trades ex-dividend July 25.

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