BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Dividends have been a significant piece of the performance puzzle in 2015. With sluggish price action in the big S&P 500 index, dividends have added up to about 25% of investors' total returns so far this year.
And while it may seem like a stretch that dividends have accounted for a quarter of the S&P's gains in 2015, the 2015 numbers actually understate the long-term performance implications of owning dividend stocks. According to research from Morgan Stanley, dividends have contributed more than 41% of the stock market's total returns over the last eight decades.
In short, ignore dividends at your own peril this summer.
To find the biggest benefit from dividends, though, it's not enough to simply buy names with big payouts today. You've got to think about which names are going to be paying more tomorrow, too. So instead of chasing yield, we'll try to step in front of the next round of stock payout hikes.
For our purposes, that "crystal ball" is composed of a few factors: Namely a solid balance sheet, a low payout ratio and a history of dividend hikes. While those items don't guarantee dividend announcements in the next month or even three, they do dramatically increase the odds that management will hike their cash payouts to shareholders. And they've helped us grab onto dividend hikes with a high success rate in the past.
Without further ado, here's a look at four big stocks that could be about to increase their dividend payments in the next quarter. Think of it as your dividend preview.