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Dividend Roundup: WAG, GEL, POPE, HCSG, GAIN

Here are the five latest dividend-related developments featured on The Dynamic Dividend:

Walgreens' Biggest Dividend Hike Ever

Walgreens (WAG) announced a 28.6% increase to its quarterly dividend today, which is the biggest raise the drugstore operator has ever given to its shareholders. And that’s saying something, considering the company has improved its dividend output every year dating back to 1976.

The company also announced the authorization of a new $2 billion share repurchase program, and said it has already completed the $1 billion buyback plan it announced in October 2010.

Today’s record dividend hike pushes Walgreens' quarterly payout from $0.175 up to $0.225 per share. The company has really accelerated its dividend growth effort in recent years, increasing its payout by a compound annual growth rate of 23.8% since 2007 and improving its dividend output by 10% or better for eight consecutive years (including 20% or better each of the last six years). Last year the company gave its shareholders a 27% raise on July 14, which was then the biggest dividend hike in the company’s history.

The Class C Dividend Dynamo is currently on pace to improve its dividend output for the 36th consecutive year, which is the fourth-longest active streak among retailers. Only Lowe’s (LOW), Target (TGT) and Walmart (WMT) have it beat.

The announcement has given Walgreens' shares a nice jolt in early trading, although it shouldn’t come as a shock to those who track the company’s dividend activity. In my article previewing July dividend hikes, ("These Six Companies Will Raise Their Dividends in July,") I predicted “an increase of 20-30%.”

Shares of WAG are currently trading at $43.26 (+1.67%), where they now feature a 2.08% dividend yield.

Genesis Increases Distribution for 24th Straight Quarter

Genesis Energy L.P. (GEL) declared a quarterly distribution of $0.415 per unit this morning, a 1.8% increase over its previous payout and a 10.7% improvement over its distribution during the same period last year. The diversified energy partnership has now raised its distribution for 24 consecutive quarters.

GEL opened Wednesday’s session trading at $27.43, where it now yields 6.05%.

Genesis has raised its distribution every quarter since late 2005, increasing its payout by a total of 177% over that span.

Pope Near Full Distribution Recovery After 40% Hike

Pope Resources (POPE) announced a 40% increase to its quarterly distribution this morning, pushing its payout from $0.25 to $0.35 per unit. The land and timber partnership is now in range of making a full recovery from some big payout cuts two years ago.

Pope slashed its distribution by a total of 75% (from a peak of $0.40 per unit all the way down to $0.10 per unit) over the course of 2009. This is the second big distribution hike from the partnership since those nasty cuts, following last year’s 150% increase. The two moves have combined to offset 83% of the 2009 reductions.

POPE opened Wednesday’s session trading at $47.00, where it now yields 2.98%.

Healthcare Services Group Ups Dividend Yet Again

Healthcare Services Group (HCSG) declared a dividend of $0.15875 per share within its second quarter earnings release, which is a 0.8% increase over the company’s prior payout and a 3.5% improvement over its dividend from the same period last year.

This marks the 32nd consecutive quarter the provider of housekeeping, laundry, linen, facility maintenance and dietary services to the healthcare industry has improved its payout. Healthcare Services Group has given its shareholders a raise every single quarter since initiating its dividend in 2003, increasing its rate more than tenfold during that span.

As for its second quarter performance, the company earned $0.15 per share on $211.5 million in revenue, matching the consensus profit view while falling short of the average sales estimate ($215.2 million).

Shares of HCSG opened Wednesday’s session trading at $16.80, where they now yield 3.78%.

Gladstone Investment Corp. Boosts Monthly Dividend

Gladstone Investment Corporation (GAIN) declared dividends of $0.05 per share for each of the next three months today, which is an 11% improvement over the $0.045 paid previously by the business development company.

This marks the second consecutive quarter the fund has raised its monthly payout by a half-penny. Two additional funds under The Gladstone Companies' umbrella also announced their monthly dividends for the coming quarter today, with both Gladstone Commercial Corporation (GOOD) and Gladstone Capital Corporation (GLAD) holding theirs flat.

Shares of GAIN closed Tuesday’s session trading at $7.25, where they now yield 8.28%.

Monthly dividends in the business development space are becoming more common, with Solar Senior Capital (SUNS) initiating its payout last month and PennantPark Floating Rate Capital (PFLT) doing the same a week later. More mature BDCs such as Fifth Street Finance (FSC) and Main Street Capital (MAIN) also pay their dividends in monthly installments, and feature even fatter yields.

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Dynamic Dividend
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