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Q3: Worst Quarter on Record for S&P Dividend Increases

The third quarter has past and for investors seeking dividends, they can be glad. Standard & Poor's said yesterday that third-quarter dividend increases this year were the worst on record. Dividend payments during the third quarter fell 44.8% from a year ago, with only 191 of about 7,000 public companies - tracked by S&P - increasing their payouts.

According to S&P, 113 companies decreased dividend payments last quarter, the highest third quarter level since 1982. "The third quarter number suggests, when analyzed with additional information, that dividends may have finally hit bottom," said Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at Standard & Poor's Index Services.

"However, even if the economy responds to the various economic stimulus programs, it may still take several quarters of proven results for companies to be comfortable with increasing, or initiating, their dividend payments," Mr. Silverblatt added.

The ratio of companies increasing dividends to the ones decreasing has been fifteen-to-one since 1955; yet, the latest S&P data shows that this relationship is now close to one-to-one.

As more companies continue to preserve cash amid the current economic environment, S&P has identified a list of companies that have consistently raised dividends for the past 25 years or more. Here is a look at how some of these companies have performed during different time frames.

Sources: Standard and Poors, Thomson Reuters, CNBC Analytics

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