When you're retired, your investing goals change. Growth is still good, but it isn't nearly as important as steady and reliable income. But what stocks should you choose to provide that steady and reliable income?

There are plenty of alternatives to consider. I like AT&T (NYSE:T), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) for several reasons. Here's why they are top stocks for retirees to buy and hold.  

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AT&T

Remember that the primary goal when you're retired is steady and reliable income. That's something AT&T has definitely delivered in the past. The telecommunications giant has increased its dividend for 33 years in a row. AT&T's dividend yield now stands at 5.23%.

Of course, what happened in the past isn't a guarantee of what will happen in the future. But AT&T appears to be in great position to keep the dividends flowing. Although the company's payout ratio of 92% is higher than is ideal, cash flow is strong. In addition, AT&T should be able to grow its earnings faster in the next few years than it has in recent years.

One key for AT&T is building out its 5G wireless network. The company is rolling out 5G in 20 metropolitan areas this year. These networks claim speeds twice as fast as 4G LTE networks and should be critical for augmented reality and autonomous self-driving cars to reach their potential. 

AT&T also awaits regulatory approval for its bid to acquire Time Warner. The deal would give the company a large library of content that will enable AT&T to compete more effectively in the wireless TV market.   

Intel

Intel hasn't paid out a dividend nearly as long as AT&T has. However, there's a lot for retirees to like about the large chipmaker. Intel's dividend currently yields 3.11%. The company uses only 40% of earnings to fund the dividend program, so Intel is well positioned for future dividend increases.

The PC business isn't as strong as it used to be for Intel, though. Could that jeopardize the company's dividend down the road and reduce the attractiveness of the stock for retirees? I don't think so. Intel has several other promising opportunities for growing revenue and earnings.

Intel's acquisition of Israel-based machine-vision company MobileEye puts the company in a great position to profit from the autonomous-car market. In addition, Intel thinks it can grow significantly by selling non-volatile memory, which doesn't lose data even when a computer shuts down. The company projects that these two markets combined could represent a $200 billion revenue opportunity.

The autonomous-car market is just part of an even larger Internet of Things (IoT) market in which Intel should be a major competitor. While IoT doesn't make up a big percentage of revenue yet, it's already the fastest-growing source of revenue for Intel.

Pfizer

Pfizer began operations back in 1849. Any business that can survive and thrive for that long has done something right along the way. There are plenty of things that Pfizer continues to do right that should be attractive to retired investors.

The big pharma company's dividend stands near the top of the list, with a current yield of 3.77%. Like AT&T, Pfizer's payout ratio of 91% is higher than most investors would prefer. However, also like AT&T, the company's strong cash flow and potential for future earnings growth should make the dividend pretty safe.

While Pfizer faces loss of exclusivity for several key drugs, the company has invested heavily in research and development and acquisitions. As a result, Pfizer's pipeline includes 32 late-stage programs. The company also awaits regulatory approval for three biosimilars, three new drugs, and four additional indications for drugs already on the market.  

Much of Pfizer's past growth stemmed from acquisitions. Don't be surprised if Pfizer makes more deals to fuel growth in the future. The company's executives have hinted that they're waiting to see what happens with U.S. corporate tax reform. Whatever happens on that front, Pfizer seems likely to remain active on the business-development scene to bolster its pipeline and product portfolio. That means the drugmaker should keep on surviving and thriving for a long time to come.

Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool recommends Intel and Time Warner. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.