Stock-market volatility is back as investors try to make sense of another earnings season amid the ongoing Nasdaq Composite bear market. Investing during a bear market can be nerve-racking and stressful. But long-term investors know that putting even just a few hundred dollars of hard-earned savings to work in top stocks when they're on sale tends to be a winning move.

Three dividend stocks that stand out as good buys now are United Parcel Service (UPS -0.31%), ConocoPhillips (COP -0.60%), and Kinder Morgan (KMI -0.69%). Here's why.

A person packs a box on a table in preparation for a shipment.

Image source: Getty Images.

Changes at UPS are real and will have a lasting impact

Lee Samaha (UPS): There's no way to sugarcoat this: UPS is a transportation company, transportation suffers when the economy slows, and the economy is slowing. With fears of a recession in 2023 and companies already taking action to cut spending and pare back hiring plans, UPS earnings will likely come under some pressure.

That said, much of the bad news is already factored into the stock's price -- although just how much is impossible to know. However, UPS's market position will remain strong, emerging from any weak patches. Moreover, its earnings and free cash flow easily cover its current dividend -- yielding 3.4% at present.

UPS Free Cash Flow Per Share Chart

United Parcel Service data by YCharts.

In addition, CEO Carol Tomé's strategy of focusing on becoming "better, not bigger" is working; the company is on track to hit its 2023 targets a year early. Rather than chasing volume growth per se and expanding capital spending to meet volume demand, UPS is focused on generating profitable revenue from its existing assets.

Meanwhile, the company continues to chase strategic growth markets like healthcare and small and medium-sized businesses. It's an approach that's generated tangible benefits in margin expansion and free cash flow generation. Investors can expect more of the same once the economy recovers from any slowdown.

Dominating the oil patch

Daniel Foelber (ConocoPhillips): One of the biggest success stories in the stock market in 2022 has been the energy sector. Despite being down over 20% from its 52-week high, the energy sector is still up 28% year to date -- making it by far the best performing sector in the S&P 500.

In the short term, increased global demand paired with reduced supply due to geopolitical tensions with Russia and years of underinvestment in oil and gas production has boosted energy prices. However, the long-term trends for the U.S. oil and gas industry are also looking bright: Oil still dominates the global transportation industry, and natural gas is the lifeblood of power generation. Renewables will likely grow faster than oil and gas. But as we're seeing play out in Germany, a complete disregard for oil and gas investment can backfire if your geography isn't conducive to wind or solar.

Enter ConocoPhillips, which has a portfolio with one of the lowest production costs in the Lower 48. ConocoPhillips' acquisitions of Concho Resources (completed in January 2021), and Shell's Permian basin assets (completed in December 2021), pole-vaulted its 2021 proven reserves to 6.1 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE).

In 2021, ConocoPhillips produced 1.567 million BOE per day (BOE/D), nearly double EOG Resources' 828,900 BOE/D. That makes ConocoPhillips easily the largest independent exploration and production company in North America.

ConocoPhillips' emphasis on operating a low-cost portfolio and its impressive quantity of proven reserves make it arguably the best U.S.-based exploration and production company. Throw in a $1.92-per-share ordinary dividend, and variable dividends that paid $1 per share in the first half of 2022 alone, and you have a reliable source of passive income on top of a strong underlying business.

Fuel up your passive income stream -- and do it on the cheap

Scott Levine (Kinder Morgan): A leading energy infrastructure company, Kinder Morgan isn't exactly a household name. If you're living in a home located in the U.S. and using natural gas, however, there's a pretty good chance that you've relied on Kinder Morgan's pipeline prowess. According to the company, about 40% of the natural gas used in the U.S. has traveled through Kinder Morgan's approximately 70,000 miles of natural gas pipelines. But there's more to the company than just that; it also operates 141 terminals that store various products, including renewable fuels, chemicals, and vegetable oils.

As with many energy companies, one of the most compelling aspects of investing in Kinder Morgan is its sizable dividend. This week, Kinder Morgan announced a 3% hike to its dividend (over the sum paid out in Q2 2021), resulting in a 6.3% forward dividend yield for the stock. If that sounds too good to be true, looking back at the company's financials should allay any concerns.

KMI Free Cash Flow Per Share (Annual) Chart

Kinder Morgan data by YCharts.

Over the past five years, Kinder Morgan has generated strong free cash flow that adequately covered its distributions to shareholders. There's no guarantee that it will continue to generate comparable free cash flow, but management's proven prowess in the past bodes well for the company's future.

Fortunately for interested investors, there's a summer sale happening on Kinder Morgan's stock. Shares are currently trading at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 15, representing a discount to their five-year average forward P/E of 18.9.