Quiz time, sports fans: What do the New York Yankees of the '50s and the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Cowboys of the '90s have in common? (And how exactly 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.

William Wrigley (NYSE:WWY), for example, is up 54% since July 2006, and it currently is rewarding investors with a 1.7% yield. Then there's ONEOK (NYSE:OKE), which has returned 83% since December 2005 on top of a current 3% yield. And while both companies 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 high CAPS ratings:



Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO)


Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (NYSE:PAC)


Autoliv (NYSE:ALV)


Tsakos Energy Navigation (NYSE:TNP)


Euroseas (NASDAQ:ESEA)


Source: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS as of Oct. 18, 2007.

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. I'll get you started with some thoughts about one company here that may be worth checking out: Grupo Aeroportuario.

Manning the toll booth
If you're a fan of toll booth type businesses like famed investor Warren Buffett is, it's very possible that Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick Grupo Aeroportuario (GAP) is right up your alley. GAP is a group of formerly state-owned airports in Mexico that makes its way by charging passengers and airlines for the privilege of using the facilities, as well as by renting space to restaurants and retailers that want to set up shop in the airports.

The primary driver of GAP's results is passenger traffic, so it's important to know which cities it operates in. While it operates the airports in Guadalajara and Tijuana -- which respectively have the third- and fifth-largest passenger traffic in Mexico -- what is more notable to me is its operations in Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos. These are both up-and-coming tourist destinations in the heavily visited Mexico, and while they don't yet have the same passenger volume as Cancun (second only to Mexico City in passenger traffic), they probably have more room for growth.

On CAPS, the stock has a fan base 392 Fools, with just 12 players expecting the stock to underperform the market. One of the top players in CAPS, robertvince, likes the tourism angle on GAP and said, "Cheap prices, abundant labor and a willingness to please will make Mexico a top destination for years to come."

You can check out who has been bullish on GAP, 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.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.