The number of dividend increases rose 32.5% in the second quarter of 2011 to 444, up from 335 in the second quarter of 2010, Standard & Poor’s Indices said.

Of the 7,000 publicly owned companies that report dividend information to S&P, only 21 decreased their dividends in the quarter, compared to 34 that did so in the second quarter of last year.

Those increases amounted to an additional $1.2 billion in dividend payouts, S&P said.

“If dividends were a paycheck, dividend investors would have received an 11.1% raise in the first half of 2011,” said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Indices. “Dividend increases are commitments not just to current payments but to upcoming obligations. Companies need to be sure that their earnings and cash flow will continue into future periods to satisfy payments.”

Silverblatt expects companies to continue to increase their dividend payments through the end of 2011 “across the board for all sectors, but at a slightly lower pace than we’ve seen during the first half of the year.”

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