BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- As we look back on the year that was 2011, two things quickly become apparent: It was a rough year for stock investors, but it was a pretty good year for dividend payouts.Surprising though it may seem, those two factors aren't mutually exclusive. In 2011, the S&P 500 essentially closed the year flat; a very painful flat year when all of the volatility of the past 12 months is factored in. Dividend payers fared quite a bit better -- while dividend indices like the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index finished 2011 with much larger total returns, those raw numbers don't really tell the whole story. Instead, it makes sense to look at dividend increasers.
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