Choosing solid dividend stocks can be tricky. Buying a stock with a really high dividend yield is tempting, but many stocks with high dividends got that way because their share prices have plummeted. Often there's a genuine reason for declining shares, such as declining revenue or earnings.

Many stocks with high yields also have high dividend payout ratios, meaning a company devotes much of its earnings to those dividends. That can out a dividend at risk of being cut, which can lead to a double whammy for investors. A dividend cut negates the advantages of buying a high-dividend stock and is usually accompanied by share price erosion as disgruntled investors sell the stock.

So, in looking for three healthcare stocks with supercharged dividends to buy in a market sell-off, it makes sense to look for companies that are strong enough to handle a down market while protecting their dividends -- companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY 0.59%), AbbVie (ABBV 0.69%) and Pfizer (PFE 0.88%).

All three pharmaceutical companies have dividend yields of more than 3%, yet they have dividend payout ratios below 50%. On top of that, all three stocks are trading below 24 times earnings.

Bristol-Myers Squibb's pipeline is popping

Bristol-Myers's quarterly dividend works out to a yield of 3.2%. The company raised its quarterly dividend by 5.6% this year to $0.57, the 13th consecutive year it has boosted its dividend. Its payout ratio of 36% leaves plenty of room for continued growth.

Bristol's stock rose more than 10% over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 average is down more than 17% in that period, which shows the company's strength in a down year. Over the past 10 years, Bristol has increased quarterly revenue by 193%.

Through nine months, the company reported revenue of $34.8 billion, up just 1% over the same period a year earlier. However, the company is seeing continued growth in revenue from blood thinner Eliquis (up 12% through nine months) and cancer drug Opdivo (up 9%), plus new therapies that are breaking through, as the company's pipeline includes 51 compounds.

New product portfolio revenue increased to $553 million in the quarter, up 61%, year over year, thanks to the increased sales from Abecma, used to treat refractory multiple myeloma; Opdualag, used to treat advanced melanoma; and Reblozyl, used to treat anemia in patients with the genetic blood disorder beta thalassemia. 

AbbVie continues to grow

AbbVie is another company that easily shrugged off the share declines that affected other stocks in 2022, and it's up more than 19% during the past year.

In the first nine month of 2022, the company had revenue of $33.56 billion, up 6.2% over 2021. Over the past 10 years, it has increased quarterly revenue by 242%.

The pharmaceutical company raised its quarterly dividend by 5% this year to $1.48 per share, equal to a yield of 3.6%. Counting this year and the time it spent as part of Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie has raised its quarterly dividend in 51 consecutive years. Since it split off from Abbott in 2013, AbbVie has raised its dividend by 270%. Even so, it has kept its payout ratio below 50%, and it's currently at 44%.

AbbVie has 12 drugs that are expected to bring in more than $1 billion this year in revenue, led by blockbuster Humira, which is forecast to generate at least $20 billion in sales. The company has a huge portfolio of immunology and oncology therapies, including two, Rinvoq and Skyrizi, which are expected to have $7.5 billion in sales this year and more than $15 billion in annual sales by 2025. As they continue to add label expansions, these drugs will make up for Humira's declining sales due to its patent loss this year.

Pfizer is ready to reload

Pfizer raised its quarterly dividend by 2.5% this year to $0.41, representing a yield of about 3.3%. The company has boosted its dividend for 14 consecutive years. The payout ratio is only 38%, leaving plenty of room for continued dividend increases.

Pfizer said in its third-quarter report that it expects revenue this year of between $99.5 billion and $102 billion, compared to $81.3 billion last year. It also projects annual earnings per share (EPS) of between $6.40 and $6.50, compared to $3.99 in EPS last year.

Despite an attractive dividend and solid financials, the stock is down about 13% during the past year. Investors are wary because the company is looking at a potential losses of $17 billion in revenue from 2025 to 2030, thanks to various patent expirations.

However, like AbbVie, it has an active pipeline that should more than replace those losses. The company, as of December, said it anticipates 19 therapy launches over the next 18 months, and according to Chief Commercial Officer Angela Hwang, those therapies have the potential to generate $20 billion in annual revenue over time.