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7 Dividend Stocks Shoveling Cash to Shareholders

BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- It's weeks like this one that remind us why it makes sense to be an income investor.

At Friday's open, the S&P 500 has already shed 3.3% on the week, eclipsing any of the other weekly losses we've seen in 2010. As I mentioned yesterday, it's not corporate fundamentals that are pushing down share prices this week. Instead, the debt-ceiling-induced buying freeze is the culprit.

In actuality, fundamentals have been strong so far this quarter. The vast majority of S&P and Dow stocks are beating Wall Street's expectations for the second quarter, and corporate profits are sitting at an all-time high this month. You just wouldn't know it to look at the market.

Dividends solve that problem, at least in part. By giving companies a chance to directly impact investors' returns by doling out cash, dividends bridge at least some of the gap between fundamentals and market prices. And historically, they've provided investors with the best of both worlds.

Related: 5 Big Stocks to Trade for Gains

Instead of being mutually exclusive, dividends and capital gains actually go hand in hand. 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.

The numbers are even more compelling when looking at companies that consistently increase their payouts.

That's why, each week, we take a look at the stocks that declared dividend increases the previous week. Here's a look at some of several stocks from our list of recent dividend-increasers.

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