There's a lot that goes into a great dividend stock, but it all starts out with a great dividend yield that you can trust to be there for the long term. Big pharma's an industry with a number of top dividend stocks, with cash flow aplenty and a history of dividend raises among some of the biggest names -- but with sales under pressure because of the patent cliff, this sector's fallen under scrutiny among long-term income investors. Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) is one stock with a great dividend that's withstood the blow of patent expirations, but can this dividend make you rich in the long run?

The loss of former top-selling drug Plavix's patent protection has slammed Bristol's performance, but the company's looking to brighter days in the future. Bristol's gearing up its pipeline with new candidates to deliver strong sales for the long run, and no drug under this company's development looks stronger right now than potential cancer-fighting therapy nivolumab. Analysts have pegged nivolumab's peak sales at up to $4 billion or more, and despite shifting moods around Wall Street over this drug lately, it's still among Bristol's best shot at sustaining and growing its dividend for years to come.

Yet does Bristol have more than just nivolumab to keep dividend investors happy? Take a look at what's making Bristol's dividend go, and what can keep it rising far into the future, in the following video, as Motley Fool contributor Dan Carroll takes you through the ins and outs of this big pharma stock with plenty of appeal to income investors.

Don't miss these top dividend stocks for the next decade
The smartest investors know that dividend stocks simply crush their non-dividend-paying counterparts over the long term. That's beyond dispute. They also know that a well-constructed dividend portfolio creates wealth steadily, while still allowing you to sleep like a baby. Knowing how valuable such a portfolio might be, our top analysts put together a report on a group of high-yielding stocks that should be in any income investor's portfolio. To see our free report on these stocks, just click here now.

Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Gilead Sciences. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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