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.

Windstream (NYSE:WIN), for example, is up 76% since February 2004, and it is currently rewarding investors with a 6.7% yield. Then there's AGL Resources (NYSE:ATG), which has returned 55% since April 2004 on top of a current 4.0% yield. And while these 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:





Southern Copper (NYSE:PCU)


Apollo Investment (NASDAQ:AINV)


Diana Shipping (NYSE:DSX)


Alliance Holdings (NASDAQ:AHGP)


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

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: Southern Copper.

If there was any negative to holding Southern Copper stock over the past few years, it may have been the vertigo brought on by the stock's dizzying climb. Over the past five years, the stock has returned a brain-numbing 1,486%. In just the past 12 months, it's more than doubled.

The company has benefited from a great market for metals that has allowed it not only to rapidly grow revenue, but also to expand its margins. Copper, in particular, has been in high demand thanks to the crazy growth taking place outside the U.S.

On CAPS, investors have warmed up to the idea of Southern Copper; they have boosted it from a four-star rating earlier in the year to its current five. The stock currently has 1,693 outperform ratings versus just 59 underperform calls. EV38, one of those Southern Copper bulls, thinks it's "as close to a guaranteed investment as you can get."

Jester112358, another top CAPS player, is likewise bullish and points to the company's dividend, growth, and return on equity. He thinks it's "hard to go wrong at this P/E."

You can check out more of what others have to say about Southern Copper, 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 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:

Apollo Investment is an Income Investor selection. Can't get enough dividends? Check out Income Investor free for 30 days. 3M is an Inside Value pick.

Yankees fan and Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer hopes the Yanks can continue (regain?) their legendary excellence, and 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. The Fool's disclosure policy is a true investing dynasty.