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Rayonier Inc. (RYN - Snapshot Report) – a real estate investment trust (REIT) – raised its third-quarter cash dividend sequentially by 11.4% to 49 cents per share from 44 cents. The new dividend will be paid on Sep 30, 2013 to stockholders of record as of Sep 16, 2013.

In particular, the 9th dividend hike by Rayonier in the last 11 years is backed by the successful commencement of Rayonier’s Cellulose Specialties Expansion project. In addition, the company’s optimism regarding future cash flows and the improving timber and real estate market fundamentals also supported its decision to raise the dividend.

A steady dividend payout is in line with Rayonier’s long-term strategy of providing attractive risk-adjusted returns to its stockholders. The announced quarterly dividend rate at the company equates to an annualized rate of common stock dividend of $1.96 per share, resulting in a yield of around 3.4%, based on Rayonier’s closing price on Jul 22.

This international forest products company – Rayonier – came up with solid first-quarter results, with earnings of 79 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 27.4% and the year-ago quarter earnings by 92.7%. Results reflected the gain from the booming cellulose specialties market and rise in forest resources revenues. Also, as of Mar 31, 2013, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $266.0 million.

Hence, with strong quarterly results, improving fundamentals and efficient capital management the company is well poised to maintain its growth curves and simultaneously benefit the shareholders with steadily rising dividends.

In addition to Rayonier, in May 2013, Plum Creek Timber Company Inc. (PCL - Analyst Report) announced a 5% hike in its quarterly cash dividend rate to 44 cents per share, based on its bullish expectations of persistent growth of long-term, sustainable cash flow.

As a matter of fact, solid dividend payouts are arguably the biggest attraction for REIT investors as the U.S. law requires these companies to distribute 90% of their annual taxable income in the form of dividends to shareholders.

Rayonier carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, two other stocks that are performing well and deserve a look include Universal Forest Products Inc. (UFPI - Analyst Report) and The Macerich Company (MAC - Analyst Report), both of which hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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