BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- It's earnings season, and dividend hikes are continuing to flow in for investors this quarter.
Dividend announcements and earnings season go hand-in-hand each quarter, as companies make the logical step of going from talking about their profits to whether they'll be using those profits to pay shareholders. Dividend payouts are particularly important in 2012, after a year when owning stocks that pay dividends meant a 53% increase in total investment returns.
This week, a total of 41 companies announced hikes in their cash payouts to shareholders, contributing to an increase in dividends by 19% vs. the quarter one year ago. That's proof positive that companies are deploying their record cash reserve to increase investor returns in 2012. That's a very good thing since ultimately, those dividends can have a huge impact in total investment returns.