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.

Norsk Hydro (NYSE:NHY), for example, has risen 80% since November 2006, and it's currently rewarding investors with a 2% yield. Then there's Total SA (NYSE:TOT), which has returned 91% since January 2004 on top of a current 3.3% 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:



Turkcell (NYSE:TKC)


Banco Bradesco (NYSE:BBD)


Sasol (NYSE:SSL)


Teck Cominco (NYSE:TCK)


Schweitzer-Mauduit International (NYSE:SWM)


Source: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS as of Sept. 20.

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: Turkcell.

Even if you're not losing sleep over what may happen to the U.S. economy over the next six to 12 months, it's certainly not a bad idea to have some exposure to stocks based outside the United States. Four of the above stocks are probably a good place to start (Schweitzer-Mauduit is Georgia based) -- especially given that two of them, Sasol and Turkcell, have been singled out by the Fool's Global Gains newsletter.

Turkcell in particular is a stock that I've had my eye on for a while, since it's based in rapidly evolving, though often overlooked, Turkey. Back in March, Bill Mann picked the stock for Global Gains and noted that not only did Turkey have a market far from saturation when it comes to cellular services, but also the stock was dirt cheap. Since then, the stock has climbed nearly 40%.

CAPS players are also positive on the stock. In August, CAPS All-Star southseacapital picked the stock to outperform and said: "For the very long run, I'm extremely bullish on Turkey. I have mild concerns about the company, but this equity's price counters many of those fears."

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

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 never will 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.