The New York Yankees of the '50s and the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Cowboys of the '90s had one crucial element in common: consistent excellence in organizations and performance. Such accomplishments are rare, but if you think you could never see the same thing happen in your portfolio, think again. Carefully chosen dividend-paying stocks could be your key to superstar returns.

Build the next investing dynasty
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 is our Motley Fool Income Investor service's mission.

Total (NYSE: TOT), for example, has gained more than 72% since December 2003 and is rewarding investors with a 3.2% yield. Or consider Unilever (NYSE: UL), which has gained 63% since February 2005, atop a current 3% yield. These stocks are Income Investor recommendations, but you don't need to be a subscriber to get these great gains.

Identify new talent
With the help of Motley Fool CAPS, we'll search for the best dividend-paying stocks around. Here are several dividend picks that have also earned high ratings from the 83,000-plus members of our CAPS community.

Company

Yield

CAPS Rating

General Electric (NYSE: GE)

3.5%

****

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC)

2.5%

****

Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG)

2.2%

*****

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP)

2.1%

*****

Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM)

2.1%

****

Source: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS as of Jan. 31.

Stake your claim
There are good companies, and then there are great companies -- the kind you look at during the good times and say, "Will this ever get cheap?" Inside Value favorite Intel caught my attention when it got a little cheaper over the past couple of months. Between early December and yesterday's close, this great company had a whopping 25% lopped off of its valuation.

CAPS has more than 4,000 Intel bulls, versus just 423 who think the stock will underperform the market. One of these bulls, CAPS All-Star Loeweherz, gave a number of reasons why investors should be looking at Intel right now, including its status as a "technological leader," its monopolistic power within its industry, and its stock price, which our player says is "priced myopically focusing on recession fears."

To be sure, the stock isn't insanely cheap. Stocks like Intel just don't get insanely cheap. But it has taken that recent dive -- and let's be honest: Who ever thought we'd get a dividend yield like this from Intel?

You can check out who else has been bullish on Intel, as well as chime in with your own thoughts by heading over to CAPS. While you're there, you may also want to check out a few of the other top-rated dividend payers we've mentioned here today.

Dividend stocks could help you transform your portfolio from the flash-in-the-pan Florida Marlins into the dependable New York Yankees. And if you hate the Yankees, it's probably because they're so darn good, so darn often.

More CAPS Foolishness:

Total and Unilever are Income Investor recommendations. Intel is a pick from Inside Value. You can test-drive any of our investing newsletter services free for 30 days.

Yankees fan and Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer hopes the Yanks can continue their legendary excellence (maybe next year...), 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.