BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- With earnings season under way, let's take a look at some dividend stocks.The start of earnings season this week is typically a major positive for dividend investors. That's because companies tend to group their dividend announcements around their earnings releases. It's a logical combination; after all, those earnings are supposed to be paying for those dividend checks. This earnings season, the stakes are raised a bit. The weakness we've seen in the broad market in the last quarter has left many investors clawing for returns of any kind. As a result, the return of corporate cash to shareholders has become an especially popular option. A good quarter for dividends hikes will help bolster investor confidence at a fairly crucial time. >>5 Stocks Under $10 Set to Soar Of course, it's worth noting that dividends and capital gains aren't mutually exclusive. 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 data compiled by Ned Davis Research. The numbers are even more compelling when looking at companies that consistently increase their payouts. With that, here's a look at our list of recent dividend-increasers.