BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- 22.5%: That's how much S&P 500 companies have hiked dividends in the past year. While investor anxiety remains ramped up in summer 2012, dividend payouts are clearly still growing at breakneck speed.
After all, companies need to do something with those record profits and cash holdings, right?
It's not just a few firms that are fuelling that increase, either. Right now, a total of 402 S&P 500 components pay out dividends, the highest level since 1999. And history shows that's having a major impact on investor returns right now.
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