BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Contrary to popular belief, earnings season isn't just a crucial time for investors seeking capital gains -- it's also make-or-break time for income investors.Even if dividend actions don't spur the same kinds of big-percentage moves that can be found in an earnings surprise stock, they can provide some material gains to their shareholders in the form of cold, hard cash. And dividend announcements generally tend to be grouped around a company's earnings calls. Related: 5 Big Stocks to Trade for Gains With stocks starting to take on a more bullish tone this week, now could be a good time to pick up shares of companies that are actively paying out dividends and increasing their yields. Don't think for a second that buying dividend stocks means that you'll have to forego capital gains in 2011. In fact, statistics that we mention each week show that the exact opposite is true: Instead of being mutually exclusive, dividends and capital gains actually go hand in hand. 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, plus one other dividend payer worth taking a second look at.
Cliffs Natural Resources
Plains All American PipelineMaster limited partnership Plains All American Pipeline ( PAA) is an investment vehicle that was basically designed to generate income from the storage and transportation of petroleum and natural gas. As a result, Plains sports a massive dividend payout and frequent appearances on this list of dividend increasers. Don't be fooled by the small 1.3% increase in PAA's payout last week -- the company's 6.1% yield is staggering right now. Plains' business is built on the consistent demand for crude oil and natural gas in the middle states, operations that benefit from a deep economic moat given the fact that Plains itself owns the infrastructure that transports that lifeblood to the Midwest. While the business can be complex, the firm's management team has proven adept at making meaningful acquisitions and hedging against downswings in the company's commodity exposure. >> Keep the stock market at your fingertips with TheStreet's iPad app. Because of PAA's structure as an MLP, the stock sports a relatively scant balance sheet, opting instead to pass through the vast majority of its income to unit holders. The firm's income is consistent, and growth has remained positive throughout the recession -- unit holders can count on financial stability in this high-yield stock.
Targa Resources Partners
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