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Dividend Roundup: PetSmart, American Water, Newcastle, CreXus

Here are the four latest dividend-related developments featured on The Dynamic Dividend: PetSmart, American Water, Newcastle, CreXus Investment Corp.

PetSmart Hikes Dividend Another 12%

PetSmart, Inc. (PETM) declared a quarterly dividend of $0.14 per share after Friday’s closing bell, which is a 12% improvement over the $0.125 paid each of the previous four quarters by the retailer of pet products and services.

The company also announced the authorization of a new $450 million share repurchase program.

PetSmart has now raised its payout by a total of 600% since it began returning cash to shareholders in 2003. Most of that growth has come in the last two years: The company has hiked its dividend three times over the last 24 months, improving its payout by 367% during that short period.

Shares of PETM closed Friday’s session trading at $43.39, where they now feature a 1.29% dividend yield.

American Water Boosts Dividend For Third Straight Year

American Water Works Company (AWK) declared a quarterly dividend of $0.23 per share today, boosting its payout by 4.6%. The largest public U.S. water utility has raised its dividend every four quarters since it began returning cash to shareholders in 2008.

Shares of AWK are currently trading at $29.10, where they now feature a 3.16% dividend yield.

American Water Works returned to the public markets in April 2008 when German utility giant RWE decided its 2003 acquisition of the company wasn’t a good fit. The company initiated a quarterly dividend shortly after, which it has now boosted by a total of 15% in the three years since.

The move keeps American Water’s forward payout ratio just under 50%, a figure that has proven to be highly sustainable within this industry, especially for companies with geographic diversity and scale. American States Water Company (AWR) and California Water Service Group (CWT), two companies with 40+ consecutive years of annual dividend growth, currently maintain forward payout ratios of 52.1% and 49.6%, respectively.

Newcastle Reinstates Once-Promising Dividend

Newcastle Investment Corp. (NCT) declared a quarterly dividend of $0.10 per share this morning, which will be the real estate investment trust’s first since 2008.

The debt-focused REIT initiated its quarterly dividend in 2002 and pushed it steadily higher until 2008, when the company slashed and eventually halted its payout. Analysts currently expect Newcastle to earn more than $2.00 per share this year and again in 2012, which points to plenty of upside for its revived payout. To qualify as a real estate investment trust, the company must return 90% of its taxable earnings to shareholders.

Shares of NCT popped to $4.90 (+11.36%) in pre-market trading, where they now yield 8.16%.

CreXus Increases Dividend For Fifth Consecutive Quarter

CreXus Investment Corp. (CXS) declared a quarterly dividend of $0.25 per share after today’s closing bell, which represents a 4.55% increase over its previous payout. The mortgage/debt-focused REIT has raised its dividend every quarter since it began returning cash to shareholders early last year.

Shares of CXS closed at $10.28 on Wednesday, where they now feature a 9.73% dividend yield.

CreXus went public in September 2009 and paid its first dividend of $0.07 per share in March 2010. The company, which is externally managed by a wholly owned subsidiary of Annaly Capital Management (NLY), has now boosted its payout by 256% since it began returning cash to shareholders less than 15 months ago.

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