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7 Dividend Stocks to Increase Your Returns

Stocks in this article: HNZDEHPQTAPBGUNHMCK

BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- The market has been providing investors with pretty unwelcome price action during this short post-Memorial Day week. On Wednesday, the S&P 500 shed 2.3%, the index's biggest single-day loss since back in August 2010. And the selling only looks like it will accelerate in today's trading session.

When the market fails to produce gains, investors always seek alternatives. And right now, dividend-payers are a good option. That's because dividend stocks produce returns regardless of what the broad market is doing. Provided that corporate fundamentals remain intact, these companies will continue to pay out cash to their investors.

Now, with solid earnings continuing to trickle down to Wall Street, dividend hikes are continuing to be a major theme -- all told, 21 companies announced increases in their shareholder payouts last week, up from 20 the week before.

Related: 5 Big Stocks to Trade for Gains

That's a significant metric for shareholder returns: Over the last 36 years, dividend stocks outperformed the rest of the S&P 500 by 2.5% annually, and they outperformed nonpayers by nearly 8% every year, all while paying out cash to their shareholders, according to a study from NDR.

Each week, we take a look at the stocks that are hiking their payouts. Here's a look at some of several stocks from our list of recent dividend-increasers.

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