Quiz time, sports fans: What did the New York Yankees of the '50s and the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Cowboys of the '90s have in common? (And exactly how can this help you with your portfolio?)

It wasn't just that they had some of the best individual players of the time -- Yogi Berra, Michael Jordan, and Emmitt 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 it in your portfolio. Impossible? No way! Because that's what carefully chosen dividend-paying stocks can offer.

Build 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. Finding them for you is precisely what we do at our Motley Fool Income Investor service.

Constellation Energy Group (NYSE:CEG), for example, is up 154% since July 2004, and it's currently rewarding investors with a 1.9% yield. Then there's Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD), which has returned 78% since June 2004, on top of a current 5.8% 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
With that last thought in mind, I'd like to introduce you to our new community-intelligence database, Motley Fool CAPS. There, savvy investors help one another identify stocks that can create consistent and substantial growth for any type of investor. That means whether you're a Buffett-esque value investor or a chart-watching technical trader, you are welcome to strut your stuff. And, just as 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:



Senior Housing Properties Trust (NYSE:SNH)


CT Communications (NASDAQ:CTCI)


LS Starrett (NYSE:SCX)


Sabine Royalty Trust (NYSE:SBR)


Host Hotels & Resorts (NYSE:HST)


Source: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS as of May 17.

Stake your claim
I encourage you to join CAPS to learn more about why investors are so bullish on these companies, and perhaps to add your own thoughts to the system. I'll get you started with some thoughts about one company here that may be worth checking out: Host Hotels & Resorts.

If you like to travel in style, you may very well have stayed at a Host Hotels-owned property. Formerly known as Host Marriott, the company owns a portfolio of upscale hotels under a range of brands that include Marriott, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons. The properties cover 26 states in the U.S. as well as a handful of locations in Canada, two in Chile, and one in Mexico.

Host's shares came under pressure recently, as the company announced in mid-April that revenue-per-room (RevPAR) growth would be somewhat slower than expected. The stock declined 2.5% following the announcement and has dropped nearly 10% over the past month. Strong industry trends have been at the company's back over the past few years, and the downward adjustment to RevPAR suggested to investors that those trends may be cooling.

CAPS players have been extremely positive on Host, and of the 67 ratings the stock has received, only one calls for the stock to underperform. CAPS player mikegtown1 cites the company's "strong quarterly earnings" and the "business and leisure travel growth" that will help the industry. He also believes that the "industry has low overall valuations [versus] other real estate [stocks] despite prior year run-ups."

The stock also sports support from some highly rated Wall Street firms on CAPS, including Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, RBC Capital Markets, and Bank of America.

You can check out more of what others have to say about Host, as well as chime in with your own thoughts by heading over to CAPS. You may also want to check out a few of the other top-rated dividend payers listed above while you're there.

And looping back around to conclude my (very) extended sports metaphor, allow me to suggest that 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, it's probably because they're so darn good, so darn often.

More CAPS coverage:

Yankees fan and Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer hopes the Yanks can continue (regain?) their legendary excellence, and he has his fingers crossed that the Cowboys will never get back to the top again. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. Bank of America is an Income Investor pick. The Fool's disclosure policy is a true investing dynasty.