When it comes to total returns received from stock investing, dividends can often play an underrated role. In fact, reinvested dividends accounted for roughly 84% of the S&P 500's total returns from 1960 to 2021. So if you're looking for some dividend stocks that are great buys right now, look no further than the three companies below.

As a bonus, they're all Dividend Kings, companies that have managed to increase their yearly dividend for at least 50 consecutive years. This means they have a history of withstanding bad economic storms and still returning value to their shareholders -- a win-win.

1. Coca-Cola

With brands that include its flagship Coca-Cola, Sprite, Minute Maid, Powerade, Dasani, Topo-Chico, and more, you can count on one hand the number of companies that have global brand recognition even remotely close to that of Coca-Cola (KO -0.05%). Up just over 5% year to date (as of Nov. 30), Coca-Cola is one of the few non-Big-Oil companies that's seen its stock price in the green, and there's reason to believe it'll continue.

In its third quarter, Coca-Cola brought in $11.1 billion in revenue, up 10% year over year, and enough to cause the company to raise its full-year guidance. While its iconic original Coca-Cola soda is still the primary moneymaker, Coca-Cola's willingness to invest in emerging categories will continue to drive its growth -- especially in the ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages segment.

Coca-Cola has managed to increase its yearly dividend for 60 consecutive years, and it's currently at $0.44 quarterly with a trailing annual dividend yield -- the average dividend yield over the previous 12 months -- of around 2.8%. You can't go wrong with that as an investor.

2. 3M

Like many other stocks, it's been a brutal year for 3M (MMM 0.07%), which is currently down over 29%. But that drop makes 3M seem like an enticing buy right now, especially for investors looking for value plays. Hovering at around $124 per share with a $1.49 quarterly dividend, 3M's dividend yield is close to 4.80%, and its trailing annual dividend yield is around 4.62%.

Part of the reason for the high dividend is that there's very little (if any) growth that investors will likely see from its stock price anytime soon, so this is a way to reward investors for patience. Dividend yield by itself shouldn't be the deciding factor in an investment, however. It should be about the future outlook. And although growth may stall in the near future, 3M's gross profit margin should be a positive sign for investors.

3M's gross profit margin at the end of the third quarter was 45.14%. For perspective, Honeywell (HON -0.32%), one of 3M's top competitors, had a gross profit margin of 33.18% during that same time. A company's gross profit margin determines its pricing power, and that's good news for 3M considering their increased costs in raw materials due to inflation.

MMM Gross Profit Margin (Quarterly) Chart.

Data by YCharts.

3. Procter & Gamble

Defensive stocks are companies with consistent and stable earnings, healthy balance sheets, and products that sell regardless of the broader economic conditions. And no company is more representative of that than consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble (PG -0.37%). You can't walk into any major retail store, grocery store, or convenience store without seeing its products.

With inflation at levels not seen in decades and a looming recession, there is lots of uncertainty surrounding the economy in 2023. Luckily, Procter & Gamble has brands like Tide, Bounty, Pampers, Tampax, Head & Shoulders, Gain, Crest, and many others in its arsenal, so it's equipped to keep the cash flow coming in no matter what. In 2022, the company brought in $80.2 billion in total revenue.

During rough economic times, consumers tend to cut back on things like entertainment and eating out, but it's much harder to skip out on grooming, cleaning, baby care, feminine care, and the like. There are very few "recession-proof" stocks, but Procter & Gamble is definitely one of them. And with a quarterly dividend of $0.91 (2.47% annual trailing yield), investors can be confident they'll be rewarded regardless of how its stock price performs.