BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- If you're looking for a clean corporate bill of health, dividend payouts might be the best clue you can find. According to research from Corporate Executive Board, dividend payers in the S&P 500 rallied an average of 8% higher last year than their nonpaying peers. That's some healthy outperformance.Yes, I'm talking about 2011, a year when the broad market effectively closed flat on the year. That means that dividend companies could have meant the difference between making gains last year or ending things in the red.
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