Dividend hikes aren't automatic, but they can sometimes be predictable. As long as a company is doing well and an increase to the dividend looks probable, the timing of the announcement often will come at around the same time as it did in the previous year.

Three stocks that I expect will announce increases to their dividend payments in January are Gilead Sciences (GILD -0.65%), Viatris (VTRS -1.77%), and Kimberly-Clark (KMB -0.10%).

1. Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences is a healthcare company that makes a wide range of medicines focused on treating HIV, hepatitis, and cancer. The company's business has been growing steadily over the years, with Gilead reporting sales of $27.3 billion in 2021, which was an increase of 11% from the previous year.

In addition to seeing some decent growth, the company's investors have also benefited from a solid dividend. At 3.5%, Gilead's dividend yield is higher than the S&P 500 average of 1.8%. The company announced a $0.02 increase to its dividend on Feb. 1, up to $0.73. The news came out along with Gilead's fourth-quarter earnings, so -- depending on the timing -- next year's announcement could come either at the end of January or the start of February.

With Gilead generating free cash flow of $9 billion over the trailing 12 months, which is more than the $3.7 billion that it paid out in dividends during that stretch, it appears likely that the company will continue raising its dividend in 2023.

Although Gilead's stock is trading near its 52-week high, it is still an attractive buy, trading at less than 13 times its future earnings (based on analyst expectations). The average stock in the S&P 500 trades at a multiple of 17.

2. Viatris

Viatris doesn't have a long track record of raising dividends, or even of existing as a stock; it first began trading publicly in 2020 after Pfizer spun off its Upjohn business, which then combined with Mylan, another drugmaker. Today, Viatris' business focuses on making generic and branded drugs, and it recently announced a couple of acquisitions in an effort to develop what it says it expects to be a "leading" ophthalmology business.

The company has only announced one increase since the spinoff, and that came on Jan. 6. It was a $0.01 bump up to its current quarterly dividend of $0.12. While it appears modest, that's still an increase of more than 9%. Viatris has one of the highest yields you'll find in healthcare at 4.4%. While it does have a diversified business, Viatris doesn't have a fast-growing business; thus, the safety and growth of the dividend could be paramount to the long-term success of the stock. That's why I would expect a growing dividend to be a priority for management.

Viatris' free cash flow has totaled $2.8 billion over the trailing 12 months, which is easily enough to cover its cash dividend payments of $569.1 million. As a result, a dividend increase looks probable, and an announcement could come early in 2023.

3. Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly-Clark makes day-to-day products that are essentials and are found in more than 175 countries around the world. From tissue paper to diapers to soap dispensers, this is a top consumer goods company that makes for a stable investment.

In each of the past four years, the company's sales have shown limited variability, coming in within a range of $18 billion to $20 billion. That's great consistency, and should instill confidence in the company's dividend. Although there has only been modest growth over the years, there's room for Kimberly-Clark to raise its dividend next month. Free cash flow over the trailing 12 months of $1.9 billion is 19% higher than the cash dividends it has paid out during that time.

On Jan. 26, the company announced its year-end earnings numbers, and also that it was increasing its dividend by 1.8%. That marked the 50th consecutive year that its payout would be rising, making the stock a Dividend King. With its stock now sporting a 3.4% yield, Kimberly-Clark is another above-average dividend payer that appears a safe bet to announce an increase next month.