Dividend investors would be wise to focus not just on a stock's current yield, but also on the long-term growth potential of its dividends. That's because strong businesses that consistently raise their dividend payouts reward shareholders with a steadily rising income stream that essentially equates to a raise every year. And, well, who doesn't like a raise?

But there are other reasons to value dividend growth so highly, and they're well supported by research. For instance, a study by C. Thomas Howard published in Advisor Perspectives found that for every percentage point a stock's yield rises, its annual return increases by 0.22 percentage points if it's a large cap, 0.25 if it's a mid-cap, and 0.46 if it's a small cap. Even better, Howard found that dividend-growing stocks outperformed dividend cutters by 10 percentage points per year from 1973 to 2010 and beat both flat- and no-dividend stocks. And the icing on the cake is that Howard showed that this outperformance came with a third less volatility. Higher returns, less volatility-induced stress, and a steadily growing income stream -- what's not to love?

With that in mind, here are five stocks that have grown their dividends by more than 10% over the past year.

Company

1-Year Dividend Growth Rate

Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT)

13.7%

IBM (NYSE: IBM)

12.9%

Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN)

10.8%

Broadcom (NASDAQ: BRCM)

10.5%

Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM)

10.4%

Source: S&P Capital IQ.

Caterpillar is the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives. Caterpillar currently has a three-star ranking on CAPS and offers investors a 2.9% yield.

IBM is a diversified global information technology company that offers an expansive suite of software solutions along with system integration, consulting, and financing services. IBM has a four-star ranking on CAPS, and its shares are yielding 2%.

Devon Energy is an independent energy company focused primarily on the exploration, development, and production of oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids. This Fool favorite has a top five-star CAPS rating and offers investors a growing 1.5% dividend.

Broadcom provides semiconductor solutions for wired and wireless communications. Its products enable the delivery of voice, video, data, and multimedia to and throughout the home, the office, and the mobile environment. Broadcom's mission is "to connect everything," and the company estimates that 99.98% of Internet traffic crosses at least one Broadcom chip. Broadcom has a three-star rating in CAPS, and is paying a 1.7% dividend.

Philip Morris International manufactures and sells cigarettes and other tobacco products in markets outside the United States. The company's portfolio of brands includes Marlboro, Merit, Parliament, Virginia Slims, L&M, Chesterfield, Bond Street, Lark, Muratti, Next, Philip Morris, and Red & White, along with various local cigarette brands. CAPS participants have awarded Philip Morris with the highest five-star rating, and the company is paying out a solid 4.3% dividend.

The Foolish bottom line
Had you invested in these companies a year ago, you would have enjoyed total dividend increases ranging from 10% to nearly 14%. That level of growth would provide a substantial boost to just about any investor's dividend income. But more important to investors today is to identify the companies that will grow their dividends substantially in the years ahead. If you're interested in hearing about some excellent companies that are likely to boost their dividends from this point forward, I'd like to offer you a brand-new free report from The Motley Fool's expert analysts called "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks." Today I invite you to download it at no cost to you. To discover the identities of these companies before the rest of the market catches on, you can access this valuable free report by simply clicking here now.

Joe Tenebruso manages a Real-Money Portfolio for The Motley Fool and is an analyst on The Fool's Stock Advisor and Supernova premium service teams. You can connect with him on Twitter @Tier1Investor. Joe has no position in any stocks mentioned.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Devon Energy, International Business Machines, and Philip Morris International. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.