BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- For the last several months, we've focused on poor performance in the stock market as a reason why cash is flowing into dividend-payers right now. With capital gains in question for 2011, investors are opting for cold-hard cash payouts from companies instead. But most investors probably don't realize just how at odds these two investment strategies are.As of this writing, more than six months into 2011, the S&P 500 is sitting on gains of 0.75%. On a historical basis, that's miserable performance for a full half-year. With dividends factored in, though, that year-to-date performance for the S&P climbs to 1.71% -- and taking out nonpayers (by looking at the S&P Dividend Aristocrat Index, for instance) that number climbs to 3.27%. That's a massively improved 7.35% on an annualized basis. Related: 5 Stocks Worth Buying in This Shaky Market Clearly, dividend stocks are substantially outperforming the rest of the market right now. And statistically speaking, we've long known that to be the case. 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% every year, all while paying out cash to their shareholders, according to a study from NDR. The numbers are even more compelling when looking at companies that consistently increase their payouts. That's why each week, we take a look at the stocks that declared dividend increases the previous week. Here's a look at some of several stocks from our list of recent dividend-increasers.
National Fuel Gas
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