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1 Great Dividend You Can Buy Right Now

Sean Williams
April 27, 2012

Dividend stocks are everywhere, but many just downright stink. In some cases, the business model is in serious jeopardy or the dividend itself isn't sustainable. In others, the dividend is so low it's not even worth the paper your dividend check is printed on. A solid dividend strikes the right balance of growth, value, and sustainability.

Today, and one day each week for the rest of the year, we're going to look at one dividend-paying company that you can put in your portfolio for the long term without too much concern. This isn't to say these stocks don't share the same macro risks that other companies have, but they are a step above your common grade of dividend stock. Here is last week's selection.

This week, we're going with an international cash flow king, France Telecom (NYSE: FTE  ) .

Viva la France!
I'll start out by admitting that France Telecom isn't the growth giant it used to be. For that matter, neither are Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) nor AT&T (NYSE: T  ) , but that doesn't make them any less appealing from a dividend-income or steady-cash-flow perspective.

France Telecom has been pressured by a slowdown in spending across Europe and an increase in the value-added taxes. Based on its latest full-year results, revenue dropped by 3.3% while earnings increased by a 2.1% clip. These mixed results may not exactly inspire you to jump off your couch and click the buy button, but there are plenty of reasons to be attracted to France Telecom here.

Viva emerging markets!
First, the company's majority-owned mobile unit, Orange, continues to perform well in emerging markets. In sub-Saharan Africa, Orange logged 24.8% mobile subscriber growth year-over-year, with Mali and Guinea providing the largest boosts. Total subscribership now stands at 33.5 million customers in that region.

Domestically, France Telecom's broadband and television services have delivered reasonably strong results as well. The company's pay TV segment crossed the 5-million-subscriber barrier in fiscal 2011 and added 960,000 subscriptions during the year. It also ended the year with 14.4 million fixed broadband customers, a 5% increase from 2010.

This isn't to say that economic hiccups won't disrupt some of France Telecom's growth strategies, but for the most part, the company is executing much better than its peers. Telefonica (NYSE: TEF  ) has struggled to grow in Spain, its own home turf, while France Telecom managed to report a 4.5% rise in revenue in the country. Similarly, Telecom Italia (NYSE: TI