This year has been a really challenging one for investors. The stock market is down significantly due to concerns that we could be heading toward a recession. A downturn could force many companies to reduce their cash outflows, including dividend payments to shareholders.  

Even top-notch dividend stocks like Dominion Energy (D 0.66%), Brookfield Renewable Partners (BEP 0.07%), and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP 1.91%) haven't been immune to the sell-off, as all three tumbled more than 20% this year. However, a few contributors see opportunities amid their declines. Here's why they think these top dividend stocks look like great buys right now.

Confusing things 

Reuben Gregg Brewer (Dominion Energy): Dominion Energy made a drastic shift in its business when it sold most of its midstream pipeline business to Berkshire Hathaway in 2020. It was a material division, so the company also cut the dividend. However, it announced that it would quickly return to regular dividend growth, which it did with a dividend increase at the start of 2022. 

Now largely a regulated utility company (about 90% of the business), Dominion has plenty of growth opportunity, with capital spending plans of $37 billion. Roughly 87% of the spending in this five-year plan is earmarked for "clean" energy investments of some sort.

It seems like the company is on solid footing. But during the third quarter, management announced a business review, providing very little guidance as to what that might mean for the company or investors. Wall Street hates uncertainty, and the stock reacted poorly. The shares are down over 30% so far in 2022, while the average utility, using Vanguard Utilities ETF as a proxy, is only off by 10% or so.

One thing Dominion did promise was that it was committed to its credit profile and current dividend. Even if there are more changes made, then, the company will likely remain a high-yield utility stock. After the price drop, the yield is an eye-catching 4.5%.

At this point, any downside from this review seems priced in, which makes high-yield Dominion stock seem pretty attractive right now from a risk/reward perspective.

These dividends should grow bigger with time

Neha Chamaria (Brookfield Renewable Partners): Shares of Brookfield Renewable Partners are down almost 27% in 2022, as of this writing. I'm talking about shares of the partnership, not corporate shares, which trade under the name Brookfield Renewable (BEPC 0.42%).

Although the two are the same corporate entity, Brookfield Renewable Partners stock has flown under the radar, partly because of its tax implications in retirement accounts like IRAs. Yet, that doesn't change the long-term growth story for Brookfield Renewable Partners, making it a no-brainer dividend stock to buy at current prices.

Brookfield Renewable is a solid dividend stock, having increased its dividend payout every year since 2013 and growing it at a compound annual rate of 6% through 2022. Over time, these dividends have generated hefty returns for patient shareholders.

BEP Chart

BEP data by YCharts

Brookfield Renewable is targeting 5% to 9% annual dividend growth in the long term. It's a doable goal, considering that more than 90% of the company's cash flows are contracted, which means they're also predictable and reliable. That's where the beauty of its dividend lies: Steady funds from operations (FFO), which are also rising with the company's investments in growth, mean regular, larger dividends year after year in the hands of investors.

Renewable energy has monstrous growth potential, and right now, Brookfield Renewable Partners' pipeline is more than four times its operational capacity. That's huge and could easily boost FFO per share by 3% to 5% over the next five years. Throw in inflation adjustments in contract fees and its ongoing efforts to boost margins and look for inorganic growth opportunities, and Brookfield Renewable's FFO per share could even rise by double-digit percentages in five years.

For shareholders, that means bigger dividends even in a recessionary environment, and that's something that should attract any income investor to this 4.9%-yielding dividend stock right now.

Built for this market

Matt DiLallo (Brookfield Infrastructure Partners): Brookfield Infrastructure has been an outstanding dividend stock over the years. The global infrastructure operator has increased its payout each year since its formation 13 years ago, growing the dividend at a 10% compound annual rate. 

Brookfield Infrastructure is having a great 2022 despite surging inflation and growing macroeconomic uncertainty. The company's funds from operations (FFO) were up by 12.4% per unit through the third quarter. FFO rose 10% organically, powered by inflation-linked contract rate escalations and recently completed capital projects. Meanwhile, its capital recycling program of selling mature assets and reinvesting the proceeds into higher-returning new investments continues to boost the bottom line.

Despite that success, units of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners are down more than 20% this year. That sell-off has pushed its distribution yield over 4.5%. That makes it a much better value right now than its sibling, Brookfield Infrastructure, which has only declined by 10%, and yields around 3.5%. 

That decline is even more of a head-scratcher, considering that Brookfield expects to grow its FFO per unit and dividends at healthy rates in 2023 and beyond. It sees its capital recycling initiatives, elevated inflation levels, and capital projects driving 12% to 15% FFO per unit growth in 2023.

Meanwhile, the company sees organic growth at or above the top end of its 6% to 9% annual target range over the next few years. This outlook easily supports the company's plan to grow its distribution at a 5% to 9% yearly rate.

That increasingly visible growth makes Brookfield look like a great buy following this year's sell-off. Combined with its income, this put Brookfield in an even better position to deliver strong total returns for investors in the coming years.