BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Dividend stocks are your crash protection plan. Don't believe me? Look at the data: Over the last five years, the difference between the S&P 500's performance with dividends and without was nearly double.
The big index is up 14.08% over the last five years -- including the crash -- but it's up 27.26% when dividends are included in the returns. That's a material difference.
In the last 12 months alone, dividends have accounted for a 289 basis point boost to the S&P's already impressive performance numbers. That's another material difference in a very short time period.And dividends are on the rise right now. Since this time last year, S&P 500 components have raised their payouts by 12.7%. With corporate cash and profitability both at all-time highs, that trend is unlikely to change anytime soon. One of the best ways do boost your own returns in 2013 is to step in front of the next round of dividend hikes; to do that, we'll take a look at our "crystal ball." >>5 Stocks Under $10 Set to Soar For our purposes, that "crystal ball" is composed of a few factors: namely a solid balance sheet, a low payout ratio, and a history of dividend hikes. While those items don't guarantee dividend announcements in the next month or three, they do dramatically increase the odds that management will hike their cash payouts, especially as investors start to get antsy about whether or not 2013's rally will be able to hang on. Without further ado, here's a look at five stocks that could be about to increase their dividend payments in the next quarter. >>5 Stocks Insiders Love Right Now