BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- $250 billion. That's how much JPMorgan's (JPM) Thomas Lee expects companies in the S&P 500 to return to shareholders in 2012 in the form of dividends and share buybacks. That's would be a record amount of cash being shoveled back to shareholders this year -- and Lee's estimate is on the low side.There are a lot of factors that support increased payouts to continue in 2012. Firms have record cash on hand right now -- S&P firms alone have $1 trillion in the bank -- and payout ratios trail their historical averages. So it stands to reason that investors could find more cash flowing their way over the course of this calendar year.
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