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Tickers in this Article: KMB, ADM, KO, HON, CL, PG, CLX
Over the last few months we have seen our share of disappointing earnings results. We've also seen a fair number of companies cutting or suspending the dividends they pay as a way to save cash. But have any publicly traded companies bucked the trend and actually increased their dividends?

The following companies have raised or announced an increase in their dividend in the face of trying economic times. These stocks could be worthy of further research. (For more, see The Importance Of Dividends.)

Company Market Cap Increase Or Announced Increase
Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) .7 billion 13 to 14 cents
Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) .2 billion 40 to 44 cents
Coca Cola (NYSE:KO) .5 billion .52 to .64 (annual)
Honeywell (NYSE:HON) .4 billion .10 to .21 (annual)
Kimberly Clark (NYSE:KMB) .2 billion 58 to 60 cents
Data Gathered From Yahoo Finance On March 7, 2009

A Closer Look At Colgate-Palmolive
Shares of New York-based Colgate-Palmolive have been somewhat resilient in the face of this economic downturn. The shares are down 25.2% over the last 52 weeks, whereas the S&P 500 is down 47.2%. But that's not specifically what attracts me to the company. Here's what makes me think the shares shouldn't simply be brushed aside:

I am a big believer in consumer products companies. A good argument can be made that no matter how dire the economic situation gets, people will still need certain products like toothpaste and deodorant. I am partial toward other big-name consumer products companies as well, like Clorox (NYSE:CLX) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG). I just don't see the demand for cleaning products evaporating.

Other Things That Draw Me To Colgate-Palmolive
Colgate-Palmolive is coming off a solid fourth quarter, earning $1 per share excluding charges. That was 2 cents better than analyst expectations. In that quarter, management was apparently keeping a close eye on costs. According to the release: "Excluding restructuring charges, selling, general and administrative expenses decreased from 35.3% of net sales in fourth quarter 2007 to 33.0% in fourth quarter 2008, reflecting a 90 basis-point reduction in overhead expense, the largest quarterly reduction in three years."

Colgate-Palmolive is expected to earn $4.25 a share in 2009 and $4.69 a share in 2010, according to Yahoo Finance. That implies about a 10.4% expected growth rate. Incidentally, the company trades at about 13.2 times the current year estimate and at about 12 times the 2010 estimate.

In addition, the company has a solid record of paying out dividends. In late February, the board gave the nod to a dividend increase. According to a release, as of Q2 it will be bumped up to 44 cents a share from 40 cents - a decent reflection on where its board thinks things are headed. (For more, see The Power Of Dividend Growth.)

Bottom Line
Just because a company has increased its dividend doesn't mean it's a buy or that its stock will necessarily fare well. However, I generally think companies that choose to increase the dividends they pay in the face of a very sluggish economy deserve a closer look.

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