BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- $250 billion. That's how much JPMorgan's (JPM) Thomas Lee expects companies in the S&P 500 to return to shareholders in 2012 in the form of dividends and share buybacks. That's would be a record amount of cash being shoveled back to shareholders this year -- and Lee's estimate is on the low side.There are a lot of factors that support increased payouts to continue in 2012. Firms have record cash on hand right now -- S&P firms alone have $1 trillion in the bank -- and payout ratios trail their historical averages. So it stands to reason that investors could find more cash flowing their way over the course of this calendar year. As far as returns are concerned, that's a big deal. >>5 Frustrating Stocks You Can't Give Up On Yet Over the last 36 years, dividend stocks have 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. That's why we pay close attention to the firms that are shoveling more corporate cash to shareholders each week. With that, here's a look at six stocks that hiked payouts in the last week.
BioMed Realty Trust
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