In light of all the negative economic news we are hearing lately I would like to pass on some positive news. Abbott Laboratories (ABT) increased the company’s dividend by 11% today. This makes 37 straight years of dividend increases for ABT. The company has been paying a dividend for 85 years (since 1924).

ABT is a global health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products. ABT reported fourth quarter earnings about a month ago. The company posted 14% year-over-year earnings growth. The company’s ability to grow earnings and increase its dividend is impressive in this challenging economic envioronment. ABT is also well positioned to be able to post solid growth again in the upcoming year as the company confirmed its 2009 forecast of double-digit earnings growth.

ABT is a great example of a company that meets the investment criteria of our firm’s Focused Equity Portfolio. We have been investors in ABT since 2004 and we currently maintain a long position in client accounts.