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.

National Grid (NYSE:NGG), for example, is up 67% since August 2005, and it is currently rewarding investors with a 3.8% yield. Then there's JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), which has returned 34% since August 2005 on top of a current 3.6% yield. And while both those 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:





Telecomunicacoes de Sao Paulo (NYSE:TSP)


Honda Motor (NYSE:HMC)


Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (NYSE:SID)


Navios Maritime Holdings (NYSE:NM)


Sources: Capital IQ, Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS as of Aug. 27.

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: Honda Motor.

If you, like me, have multiple news sources in your face on a regular basis, it's hard not to focus on the current craziness regarding financial institutions and homebuilders. What's somewhat easier to miss is that the same problems that are hurting those industries are seeping out and getting their icky slime on other parts of the economy as well.

The auto industry is particularly at risk from the stormy environment. Buying a car is a major purchase, and it's been easier for many consumers over the past few years as rising home prices have led to feelings of affluence. As home prices level out and even fall, consumers are going to be a bit more leery about shelling out the cash for a new car. Worse still is the fact that credit terms across the board are tightening, meaning that it'll be tougher and more expensive for people to get the loans they often need to buy a new car.

Now, the silver lining of this scenario is that when the market heads south in a cyclical industry like auto manufacturing, all of the stocks involved tend to get cheaper. Of course, the soft market for automakers doesn't necessarily change anything about the long-term prospects for a good automaker like Honda, but Mr. Market has a tendency to be a bit myopic sometimes.

When it comes to Honda, the company is also strong in a number of areas outside of autos. CAPS All-Star LevMyshkin points out:

Where Honda really excels though is the small motor department. Honda's motorcycles have been gaining incredible traction over the last ten years with excellent design that attracts 'value' buyers who can't afford Harley's. Honda additionally makes the best outboard motor boat on the market, and doesn't rest on its laurels ...

TMFEldrehad also adds that the company is plunging into the ultra-light jet market, a venture in which he likes Honda's chances.

In the short term, these non-auto products will face some of the same strain as the autos, but they also underscore Honda's strength and diversity, which should help it outperform over the long term.

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:

Want some more great dividend stock ideas? Check out Motley Fool Income Investor free for 30 days.

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.