BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Earnings numbers may be mixed, but earnings season is definitely ushering in dividend hikes. The last week alone brought 32 higher payouts for income investors, adding onto record dividend numbers for 2012.
Right now, the S&P 500 pays out more cash dividends to investors than any time before in history -- and it's in a position to pay out even more. Not only are corporate bank accounts more flush with cash than ever before, S&P firms also pay out a very low percentage of earnings in the form of dividends. At last count, the S&P's payout ratio clocked in at 32%, well shy of the index's historical average of 52%. And yields are higher than they've been any time in the last two decades, all while treasuries practically pay out zero.
So long story short, big companies have plenty of dry powder to hike their dividend payouts. And historically, that means good things for investors. Really good things.