|By Marketwire .||
|September 25, 2012 08:20 AM EDT||
NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 09/25/12 -- 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 ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE: CAG) and American Tower Corp. (NYSE: AMT).
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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 2203 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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ConAgra Foods one of North America's leading food companies, with brands in 97 percent of America's households. Shares of the company soared last week after reporting fiscal first-quarter earnings more than doubled. The company also raised its quarterly dividend from $0.24 per share to $0.25. Shares of ConAgra are up over 10 percent this month.
American Tower is a leading independent global owner, operator and developer of wireless communications sites. American Tower currently owns and operates over 49,000 communications sites across the world. The company's board of directors has recently declared its quarterly cash distribution of $0.23 per share.
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