Inflation is a beast that's yet to be tamed. As a result, the Federal Reserve will likely continue serving up substantial interest rate hikes, and that could create volatility for the stock market. 

To better position investors to thrive amid the current macroeconomic backdrop, a panel of Motley Fool contributors has identified three income-generating stocks that can help you deal with rising rates. Read on to see why they believe these high-yield dividend stocks are smart buys today. 

This cheap telecom stock offers a big yield

Keith Noonan: Like most stocks, Verizon (VZ 0.79%) has some characteristics that aren't ideally suited to a rising interest rate environment. Perhaps most importantly, the company carries a lot of debt, and higher rates could create a drag on earnings if the telecom giant has to refinance some of its existing loans under new terms. With earnings growing at a relatively slow clip, it's also likely that the the company's next dividend increases will come in below the current rate of inflation.

On the other hand, there's also a lot to like about Verizon stock right now. While payout growth will likely proceed at a relatively slow clip for the foreseeable future, shares already offer an impressive 5.6% dividend yield that looks about as safe as you can hope for at that level of payout.

Despite some headwinds facing the business, Verizon has already generated $7.2 billion in free cash flow across the first half of 2022 -- or about 69% of the $10.4 billion in total dividend payments it made across all of last year. The company has increased its payout annually for 15 years running, and it will likely announce another increase next month. 

With the stock currently trading at less than nine times this year's expected earnings, shares already look cheap and offer defensive potential in the event that the market takes another hard bearish turn. The combination of a large, well-covered dividend and conservative valuation make Verizon a strong income play amid rising rates. 

This landlord doesn't mind inflation... at all

James Brumley: W.P. Carey (WPC -0.96%) may not be knocking the socks off of income-seekers with its current yield of 4.8%. But this is a company not only built to perform in an inflationary environment that's driving interest rates higher, but built to perform increasingly better even if the economy bumps into a bigger headwind than is blowing right now.

This stock isn't a stock at all. It's a real estate investment trust (REIT). That just means it owns a bunch of rental properties, and passes along the bulk of its rent payments to shareholders.

W.P. Carey isn't your typical housing landlord, though. It owns nearly 1,400 properties leased to 386 different business tenants in 15 different industries. Its biggest single tenant is U-Haul's self-storage business, although Advance Auto Parts and Marriott also top the list.

What makes W.P. Carey such a compelling prospect right now is the way its leases are structured. While a little over a third of its rental agreements are long-term leases at fixed rental rates, the same number are tethered to the inflation rate, without any cap. Another one-fifth of its leases also vary with inflation rates, and while these rates' increases are capped, that's still a solid hedge against an unknown future. It's also worth mentioning that the bulk of this company's tenant roster are the sorts of organizations that can stand up to economic weakness.

If nothing else, it's a great way to diversify a stock portfolio that's overloaded with growth names.

A 6% yield you can count on

Daniel Foelber (Kinder Morgan): The impacts of high inflation on a portfolio vary based on the stage of the investment cycle. For example, younger folks whose wages also rise in response to inflation may be virtually unscathed. However, retirees that depend on investment income to maintain their lifestyle are at a much higher risk of seeing their purchasing power decline.

One solution is to invest in quality businesses that could grow in value over time, and that pay generous dividends. Pipeline and infrastructure giant Kinder Morgan stands out as a clear winner.

Kinder Morgan stock has a 6% dividend yield, which is nearly enough on its own to offset inflation. What's more, the company isn't as prone to short-term fluctuations in oil and natural gas prices because its long-term contracts ensure predictable free cash flow. Kinder Morgan's moderate slowdown during the oil and gas crash of 2020 is good stress for the company's resilience.

The long-term red flag for Kinder Morgan is its questionable relevance in a greener future. And while it's true that natural gas demand could fall over time, we certainly aren't seeing any indication of that now. European demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is rising as countries look to gain independence from Russian supply. Many of the world's largest economies are energy dependent -- relying on LNG exporters like Qatar, Australia, and the U.S. for a growing portion of their energy mix.

After years of underinvestment, Kinder Morgan has been cranking up its spending through major acquisitions in the alternative fuels space, as well as pipeline expansions from the Permian Basin in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico to the Texas portion of the Gulf Coast. 

Add it all up, and you have a company in a growing industry with a very attractive dividend.