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2012 Turning Out to Be the Most "Dividend-Friendly" Market in Years

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Sep 27, 2012) - According to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at Standard and Poor's, 2012 has turned out to be the most "dividend-friendly" markets in years. Currently 403 out of the 500 companies in the S&P Index are paying dividends, the highest in nearly thirteen years. Five Star Equities examines the outlook for companies in the S&P 500 Index and provides equity research on Philip Morris International Inc. ( NYSE : PM ) and Altria Group, Inc. ( NYSE : MO ).

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This past August set a record with $34 billion in cash payments according to Silverblatt. There have been approximately 250 dividend increases so far in 2012, ahead of last year's 242 during the first nine months. The current pace is the best since at least 2003, data from Silverblatt has shown. The average dividend yield for the S&P 500 has increased from 1.9 percent in 2010 to 2.2 percent in 2012.

"Given underlying fundamentals, low payouts and cash reserves, 2012 should set a record high for cash dividend payments, 16% above that of 2011," said Silverblatt in a note.

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Philip Morris has increased their quarterly dividend 10.4 percent to $0.85 per share, for an annual yield of 3.77 percent. The company recently signed a deal with Canadian vaccine developer Medicago Inc. to license the company's flu vaccines in China. Shares of Philip Morris are up nearly 15 percent for the year.

Altria Group's Board of Directors in August approved a 7.3 percent increase to their quarterly dividend. The quarterly dividend is payable on October 10, 2012 to shareholders of record as of September 14, 2012. The company offers investors a dividend yield of roughly 5.17 percent.

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