When we think of a successful portfolio, we usually think of solid stock performance. And that's one big piece of the puzzle. But there's another element that's part of a good investment story: stocks that will pay you a dividend year after year.

What do you have to do to benefit from this passive income? Nothing. You just have to own the stock.

Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? And passive income can be particularly appreciated during times when the market is down. Let's take a look at three dividend superstars to add to your holdings right now.

1. Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Laboratories (ABT -0.74%) has increased its dividend for the past 50 years and is on the prestigious list of Dividend Kings. Why is this past behavior significant? It shows dividend increases are important to the company. And that's a good sign for future dividend decisions.

How much can you generate in passive income from this diversified healthcare company? It depends on how many shares you own. Abbott pays an annual forward dividend of $1.88 per share at a yield of 1.79%. If you own 100 shares of Abbott, your dividend will total $188, for example.

But you don't want to own Abbott for dividends alone. There's a lot to like beyond the dividend policy. The company operates four businesses: diagnostics, medical devices, nutrition, and established pharmaceuticals.

This diversification is a safety net of sorts. If one business struggles at a certain point, others may compensate.

In recent times, a baby formula recall weighed on nutrition revenue. At the same time, new product clearances and the popularity of Abbott's continuous glucose monitoring system drove double-digit revenue gains in the U.S. medical-devices business. Overall, Abbott can weather tough times because patients depend on the company's products.

Abbott has a track record of earnings increases over time. And its strong product portfolio likely will keep that going.

2. Target

Target (TGT -0.32%) has increased its dividend for the past 51 years. That's almost as long as Target's history as a publicly traded company.

The retail giant went public 55 years ago. Today, Target pays an annual forward dividend of $4.32 per share at a yield of 2.78%. Quarterly data in the chart below shows this is higher than rival Walmart.

TGT Dividend Chart

TGT Dividend data by YCharts.

Like Abbott, Target makes a great addition to your portfolio for the dividend payment. But the company also brings a story of earnings strength over time -- and future prospects.

Target was a shining star during the worst days of the pandemic. The company's broad range of essentials, contactless pickup services, and digital platform made it a favorite among consumers. That resulted in huge gains in online sales and its pickup and delivery options.

In recent times, though, Target has faced the challenges of higher inflation and supply chain troubles, which has resulted in rising transport costs and excess inventory. And this has weighed on gross margin.

But these are temporary issues, and Target has taken measures to address the problems. For instance, the company has cleared out inventory through markdowns and is preparing for the key holiday shopping season.

The second-quarter earnings report offered reasons to be optimistic about Target's future. Digital comparable sales rose 9%, and delivery and pickup services climbed almost 11%. The main point is that revenue continues to rise and shoppers keep returning to Target.

3. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola (KO -0.46%) may not deliver huge share performance -- but you can count on it for steady growth over time. For instance, over the past decade, the stock has climbed about 50%.

Coca-Cola is the world's largest non-alcoholic beverage company. Its products are present in about 200 countries. It sells popular drinks across a wide variety of categories, from sparkling soft drinks to hydration and fruit juices -- and even coffee.

You may think of Coca-Cola as a name that's already completed its growth story, but there's actually a lot of territory left to conquer. Much opportunity remains in developing and emerging countries. There, commercial beverages make up only about 30% of what people drink. And Coca-Cola has only 6% volume share. Progress in these areas could add to revenue at Coca-Cola well into the future.

It's worth buying shares of Coca-Cola for its earnings potential. And dividends make the story even more refreshing.

Coca-Cola has raised its dividend for 60 consecutive years. The company today pays an annual forward dividend of $1.76 at a yield of 3.15%. That's higher than the average yield in the soft drinks industry of 2.52%, according to the NYU Stern School of Business.

All of this means that, over time, you're likely to benefit as Coca-Cola extends its brand strength into newer markets -- and you get paid just for sitting back and watching the story unfold.