Investing: Top Stocks For 2004: Dividends matter.

The new tax law and market metrics will favor companies that pay

In the next few weeks, a rash of companies will raise their dividends, joining the ranks of Pulitzer, Oxford Industries and others that did so earlier this month. January and February almost always bring an outsize stream of dividend hikes, as companies lock in the good news ahead of their annual shareholder meetings each spring. This new year's burst could be exceptional. After decades in the dustbin, dividends are once again in fashion in corporate boardrooms, and they deserve a prominent place in your portfolio.

Investing for dividends fell deeply out of favor in the grow-grow 1990s, when the number of...

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