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5 Dividend Stocks Itching to Pay You More

Tickers in this article: M FDX GPS UPS MMM LO

5 Dividend Stocks That Want to Pay You More

BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) - The dividend clock is ticking -- are you ready for it?

As the so-called fiscal cliff comes closer, one key component of the tax increases set to trigger on Jan. 1 is the treatment of dividend income is set to change after a decade of record low tax rates for unearned income. Since 2003, we've gotten accustomed to paying Uncle Sam just 15% of our dividend earnings, but barring a deal between the White House and Congress before year-end, that rate jumps up to whatever you pay for regular income.

That change could have a real, negative impact on income investors, a group that's already gotten shellacked in the last several years on the heels of record low interest rates and comparatively high inflation. As a dividend-seeker, you've got to fill that gap somehow -- that's why today, we'll focus finding likely dividend hikes for the coming quarter.

In other words, these five firms are getting ready to boost dividends; they just don't know it yet.

In the past few months we've had some stellar success in finding future dividend hikes just by zeroing in on a few key factors. Now we'll look at our crystal ball and try to do it again.

For our purposes, that "crystal ball" is composed of a few factors: namely a solid balance sheet, a low payout ratio, and a history of dividend hikes. While those items don't guarantee dividend announcements in the next month or three, they do dramatically increase the odds that management will hike their cash payouts, especially as investors start to get antsy about this late-2012 correction.

Without further ado, here's a look at five stocks that could be about to increase their dividend payments in the next quarter.

United Parcel Service UPS ChartUPS data by YCharts

First up is international shipping giant United Parcel Service (UPS) , the firm best known for its signature brown delivery trucks. UPS boasts a network of more than 500 planes and 100,000 vehicles that delivers around 16 million packages to customers each day. Currently, the firm pays a 57-cent quarterly dividend that adds up to an annual 3.24% yield at current price levels.

UPS has some serious scale advantages. Hundreds of planes, thousands of trucks, and countless hub facilities, drop boxes, and retail locations aren't cheap, and replicating the firm's global reach is nearly impossible.

The firm operates in a domestic duopoly with FedEx (FDX) , and the empty trucks of fallen rivals (like DHL's foray into U.S. delivery) are a testament to just how tough the delivery business actually is.

Logistics and ground shipping continue to be big growth drivers for UPS this year. With fuel prices getting held down in the latter part of 2012, the firm has been able to churn out respectable net margins -- creating more cash for shareholders to claim.