BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Earnings numbers may be mixed, but earnings season is definitely ushering in dividend hikes. The last week alone brought 32 higher payouts for income investors, adding onto record dividend numbers for 2012.Right now, the S&P 500 pays out more cash dividends to investors than any time before in history -- and it's in a position to pay out even more. Not only are corporate bank accounts more flush with cash than ever before, S&P firms also pay out a very low percentage of earnings in the form of dividends. At last count, the S&P's payout ratio clocked in at 32%, well shy of the index's historical average of 52%. And yields are higher than they've been any time in the last two decades, all while treasuries practically pay out zero. So long story short, big companies have plenty of dry powder to hike their dividend payouts. And historically, that means good things for investors. Really good things. >>5 Stocks Under $10 Set to Soar 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. With that, here's a look at seven stocks that hiked payouts recently.