Dividend growth investing is one of the most proven and time-tested investment strategies for superior long term returns. Nike (NYSE:NKE), Disney (NYSE:DIS), Hormel Foods (NYSE:HRL), McCormick (NYSE:MKC) and Chico's FAS (NYSE:CHS) are five dividend growth companies that have recently raised their payments. Do they deserve a place in your portfolio?

A dividend marathon with Nike
Nike has been playing the dividend growth game for a long time. The global leader in sports shoes and apparel has increased its dividends over the last 12 consecutive years, including a potent increase of 14% in quarterly dividends announced on Nov.21. The company has returned over $15 billion to shareholders through dividend payments and share repurchases in the last ten years, and the run is far from over.

Nike enjoys an undisputed leadership position in its industry, supported by superior brand power, global reach, scale advantages and abundant financial resources. With a payout ratio near 28% of earnings, the company has plenty of room to continue raising payments in the future. The stock yields 1.2% in dividends after the recent increase.

Magic dividends from Disney
Disney announced a 15% dividend increase on Dec. 4; this brings the dividend yield to 1.2% and marks the 58th consecutive dividend payment to shareholders. Disney has a remarkably comfortable payout ratio of only 22%, and even if the entertainment industry is naturally cyclical, Disney enjoys outstanding competitive strengths which set it apart from the competition.

The company owns enormously valuable intellectual properties like its endless catalog of fictional characters and a portfolio of renowned brands like Disney, ABC, ESPN and Pixar, among others. Disney gets to profit from these assets on multiple platforms: movies, shows, home videos, theme parks, merchandising, etc. This provides a lot of leverage when it comes to making money from its properties, and it´s an unparalleled advantage in the media and entertainment industry.

Tasty distributions from Hormel Foods
On Nov. 26 Hormel Foods announced its 48th consecutive annual dividend increase, raising the quarterly dividend by 18% to $0.20 per share. The company has paid uninterrupted quarterly dividends since going public in 1928; the dividend yield is at 1.9%, and the payout ratio is a reasonable 36% of earnings.

The dividend increase announcement came the same day as the food distributor delivered better than expected earnings and sales for fiscal 2013, with fourth quarter earnings per share growing by a mouthwatering 18% versus the previous year. The company has proven remarkable financial strength in the long term, and the business continues delivering yummy results, so investors have good reason to expect growing dividends from Hormel Foods in the coming years.

Spicy dividends from McCormick
McCormick announced a 9% dividend increase on Nov. 26; this is the 28th consecutive hike from the company, which has paid uninterrupted dividends since 1925. The new dividend yield stands at 2.1%, and the payout ratio is still safe at 44% of earnings.

McCormick manufactures, markets and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other products to the entire food industry: retail outlets, food manufacturers and foodservice businesses. The company makes two thirds of consumer sales from brands that are leading players in their category, it serves 9 of the top 10 multinational food manufacturers and 8 of the top 10 global foodservice restaurants. This flavorsome dividend is here to stay and grow.

Chico's FAS is in fashion
Most apparel retailers are going through a challenging period, but you wouldn´t have guessed that by looking at Chico's FAS. On Nov. 26 the company announced better than expected results and a whopping 36% dividend increase, bringing the new quarterly payment to $0.075 per share. The forward dividend yield is at 1.6%, and the company has a payout ratio of 21%.

Since 2010, the company's dividend per share has nearly doubled, from $0.04 per quarter to $0.075.  During the same timeframe, Chico's FAS has returned $553 million to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. The company doesn´t have the same kind of extensive track record as other noteworthy dividend growth stocks, but Chico´s is clearly off to a strong start.

Bottom line
In addition to providing income for investors, growing dividends can be a powerful and transparent reflection about business quality and fundamental strength. Nike, Disney, Hormel Foods, McCormick and Chico´s FAS are delivering considerable dividend increases for shareholders, and they have what it takes to sustain growing distributions for years to come. Investors looking for dividend growth companies for their portfolio may want to give some consideration to these names.

Andrés Cardenal owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Nike and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nike and Walt Disney. 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.