BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Even if it doesn't feel like it, 2012 has been a good year -- heck, even a banner year -- for stock investors. So far this year, the S&P 500 has rallied more than 12.68%, and it's only August. If that price action continued until year-end, we'd be talking about a nearly 21% year for Mr. Market.
Those don't happen all that often, especially in the last decade.
And dividend payouts are making up a significant part of that return right now. Dividends have tallied up to more than 12% of the S&P's returns year-to-date, a number that looks even more significant when you consider the fact that the S&P's climb hasn't exactly been a straight line. When equities fell hard in the second quarter, dividends were all that kept most investors from falling into the red. That's a valuable safety net to have.
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