BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Last week was a slow one for dividends with only seven companies declaring increases in their payouts to shareholders. But despite that lack of income action, dividends continue to be a big deal on Wall Street -- particularly when stocks are slow to perform and capital gains can't be found.

History tells us that when the market is bearish, dividend stocks are a good place to be. Over the last 36 years, dividend stocks outperformed the rest of the S&P 500 by 2.5% annually, and they outperformed nonpayers by nearly 8% each and every year, according to a study from NDR. And right now, companies that are willing to part with cash in arguably tough times are worth a second look.

Here's a look at this week's dividend increasers.
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BioMed ( BMR) is a health care REIT that offers office and research space around key metropolitan areas. The company has 73 properties in its portfolio, servicing clients in the biotech, pharmaceutical and government research industries. Last week, shareholders saw a boost in their returns thanks to a 7.1% dividend increase that resulted in a 15-cent quarterly payout.

BioMed has been having a good year thanks to strong occupancy in its properties. With more than 90% of leases expiring well after 2012, this company has plenty of time before it needs to worry about filling vacant space. Likewise, its niche provides a client base that has to deal with exceptionally high switching costs, a factor that encourages lease renewals. And with plenty of lease income rolling into BioMed's coffers in 2010, this REIT should be able to keep up with its dividend outlays this year and beyond.

One of the funds that's counting on those dividends is the Northern Small-Cap Value Fund (NOSGX), which counts BioMed among its holdings. The fund's other positions include Rent-a-Center ( RCII) and Sketchers ( SKX).

Another big player in the REIT market is W.P. Carey ( WPC), a commercial real estate company that leases its properties for profit and advises a number of REITs through its investment management arm. W. P. Carey's management announced a modest dividend last week, raising its payouts 0.4% to 50.6 cents per share -- a sizable 7.29% dividend yield.

That generous yield should come as little surprise to investors. With net margins deep in the double digits, a healthy balance sheet and industry-leading cash flows, this $1.09 billion company manages to make plenty of money for its owners -- and still deliver growth over the long term.

One of those owners is Tom Gayner, who owns a sizable stake in W. P. Carey through the asset management firm that bares his name. Other holdings of Markel Gayner Asset Management include Citigroup ( C) and Anheuser-Busch InBev ( BUD).

Book giant John Wiley & Sons ( JW.A) ( JW.B) announced a 14.3% dividend hike last week in both its A and B class shares, increasing their payouts to 16 cents per share. The publisher has managed to carve out a profitable space in trade and professional books, which cater to readers in the academic, institutional, and professional world and offer higher margins than mass-market products. In 2010, the company should continue to benefit from a degree of separation from fickle consumers' pocketbooks.

Over the years, Wiley has managed to build up an impressive library of brands, each of which caters to different types of consumers. From business to medical publishing, Wiley has distinguished its offerings as league leaders, much to the chagrin of its competition. Growth in readers in the English-speaking world should continue on-pace. Language barriers and trade difficulties could make international expansion more difficult.

For the rest of this week's dividend stocks, check out the Dividend Stocks portfolio on Stockpickr.

And if you haven't already done so, join Stockpickr today to create your own dividend portfolio.

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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Jonas Elmerraji is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on MSNBC.com.

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