Quiz time, sports fans: What did the Edmonton Oilers of the '80s and the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Cowboys of the '90s have in common? (And exactly how can this help me with my portfolio?)

It wasn't just that they had the best individual players of the time -- Gretzky, Jordan, and Smith, respectively -- although that certainly helped. And it wasn't just that they were able to bring home world championship trophies on a regular basis. It was simply that their organizations and performances were consistently excellent.

Consistent excellence is rare anywhere, but imagine seeing that in your portfolio. Impossible? Nope. Because that's what carefully chosen dividend-paying stocks can offer.

Be the next investing dynasty
Finding these long-haul outperformers can help you build your fortune, as studies from investing gurus such as Jeremy Siegel have shown time and time again. And finding them for you is precisely what we do at our Motley Fool Income Investor service. National Grid (NYSE:NGG), for example, is up nearly 40% over the last year, while rewarding shareholders with a 4.1% yield. And then there's AllianceBernstein (NYSE:AB), which has returned 140% over the last two years, on top of a 4.5% yield.

And while both stocks happen to be Income Investor recommendations, you don't need to be a subscriber to get these great gains.

Identify new talent
It's with that last thought in mind that I'd like to introduce you to our brand-new community-intelligence database, Motley Fool CAPS. There, savvy investors help other savvy investors identify stocks that can create consistent and substantial growth for any type of investor. In fact, thousands of strategies, plays, and hunches are allowed to vie for top position. And, just like in professional sports, the cream inevitably rises to (and stays at) the top.

So what are the best dividend-paying stocks around, according to CAPS? Here are a few dividend picks with five-star ratings:



SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM)


Oneok (NYSE:OKE)


Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE:ETP)




Bancolumbia (NYSE:CIB)


Stake your claim
I encourage you to join CAPS to learn more about why investors are so bullish on these companies, and to possibly add your own thoughts to the system. I'll get you started with a little bit about my personal favorite, Oneok. This natural gas company has produced phenomenal long-term profits for its shareholders, all while paying out a very healthy dividend. With its yield, commitment to significant dividend growth, and growth prospects, I think Oneok would be a stellar candidate for additional due diligence.

The great thing about being a dividend investor is that your portfolio won't be shocked by the market's most volatile stocks. Instead, it will aim to outperform the market on the back of dependable, consistent cash flows.

So, to conclude this extended sports metaphor, dividend stocks will help you turn your portfolio into the dependable New York Yankees rather than the flash-in-the-pan Florida Marlins. And if you hate the Yankees like I do, it's probably because they're so darn good so darn often.

Oneok, AllianceBernstein, and National Grid are all Motley Fool Income Investor selections.

Fool contributor Nick Kapur is not a professional athlete, but wishes he were just so he could continue to refer to himself in the third person. He also owns none of the shares mentioned above. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.