Dividends are great all the time. But in a bear market, you'll welcome them even more. Your portfolio's performance may be down -- but you're still guaranteed annual income just for owning certain stocks, even if those stocks themselves have declined. A pretty good deal, right?

So, as you're doing your end-of-year stock shopping, put dividend stocks on your list. Whether the bear market continues next year or a bull market takes over, you'll be happy to collect this extra income.

Today, many dividend stocks are trading at bargain valuations. And we don't know how long that will last. Let's check out two top players to buy hand over fist before the new year.

1. Target

You may not automatically think of retail giant Target (TGT -2.43%) when you think of dividends. But Target is actually a terrific dividend stock.

It's also one of the elite. Target is a Dividend King. That means it's been increasing its dividend for at least the past 50 years, demonstrating that Target values the idea of rewarding shareholders. And that suggests it's likely to stick with its dividend policy.

If you own Target, you collect an annual dividend of $4.32 per share. And Target's dividend yield of 2.86% tops the average of the general retail sector.

When it comes to business, Target has had it rough this year. Higher inflation has increased the company's costs -- and weighed on margins. The inflation problem also is hurting consumers' buying power. So, they're favoring essentials and looking for deals.

Even in this context, though, Target managed to increase same-store sales, store traffic, and basket size in the most recent quarter. It represented Target's 222nd straight quarter of same-store sales growth. Target also gained market share in all of its five merchandising categories.

All of this tells me that once today's economic troubles ease, Target has what it takes to thrive. Today, Target is trading for 26.5 times forward earnings estimates. That's down from more than 40 earlier this year.

This looks like a great entry point for a stock that will offer you solid passive income -- and eventually earnings growth too.

2. Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Laboratories (ABT 0.22%) recently raised its quarterly dividend by 8.5%. It will be paid out in February. But to benefit, you must be a shareholder of record as of Jan. 13. So there's reason to get in on this stock as soon as possible.

The annual dividend totals $2.04 at a dividend yield of 1.83%. Like Target, Abbott is a Dividend King. That means you can count on dividend growth over time when you own this stock.

You'll also want to buy Abbott for its business model -- one that supports earnings no matter what the market is doing. Not only is Abbott a healthcare company -- and they generally hold up well during market downturns -- but it's also diversified. The company's four businesses include diagnostics, medical devices, established pharmaceuticals, and nutrition. The diversified model is great because, if one business faces challenges, the others can compensate.

Abbott has a solid track record of earnings growth. Generally, medical devices have powered revenue. But in recent times, Abbott's coronavirus tests have made the diagnostics business the strongest. Abbott reported more than $10 billion in total sales in the most recent quarter and lifted its full-year earnings-per-share forecast. So things are looking positive for Abbott as we head toward the new year.

But Abbott's shares haven't kept up with its earnings, forecasts, or dividends this year. The stock price has gone down 22%. That's left Abbott trading at about 25 times trailing-12-month earnings. That's at around its lowest level over the past three years.

All this means now is the time to scoop up shares of this healthcare player that you'll want to hold on to for the long term.