The New York Yankees of the '50s and the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Cowboys of the '90s have one crucial element in common: consistent excellence in their organizations and performance. That's a rare accomplishment, but if you think it could never occur 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 the mission of our Motley Fool Income Investor service.

Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD), for example, has beaten the S&P 500 by 66 points since May 2004, and it currently is rewarding investors with a 7.6% yield. Or consider ONEOK (NYSE:OKE), which has topped the S&P by 54 points since November 2005, atop a current 4.8% yield. 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 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 140,000 members of our CAPS community:



CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Kraft Foods (NYSE:KFT)



PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP)



China Mobile (NYSE:CHL)



United Technologies (NYSE:UTX)



NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX)



Source: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS as of Sept. 17.

Any one of these quality companies would add some dividend excellence to your portfolio, but let's take a closer look at why CAPS members think that China Mobile is worth a hard look.

Does my dividend have a glass jaw?
The last thing we want in a dividend-paying company is the risk that the company will fall off a cliff and have to pull back its dividend. This usually ends up being a double whammy because not only do you lose your dividend payout, but many of the dividend-loving investors who own the stock will run for the hills, causing the stock price to fall.

With that in mind, there are three places that I immediately tune into when kicking the tires of a dividend payer -- dividend history, financial statements, and business stability.

China Mobile's balance sheet is impressive. At the end of the second quarter, the company had more than $37 billion in cash on its books against a mere $5 billion in debt. With its massive profit margins, this wireless powerhouse has little trouble handling the payments on its debt, so angry creditors are no concern here.

On the business side, we can be sure of at least some stability. China Mobile is the Goliath of the wireless communications industry in China, and at the end of 2008 boasted more than 450 million subscribers and more than 70% market share in mainland China. The great part about a subscription service like this is that those millions of customers provide recurring revenue year in and year out.

If there's any area for dividend hawks to keep an eye on, it may be the cash flow statement. In years past the company had plenty of cash to fund both its capital spending and its dividend payouts. Over the past 12 months, however, slower growth in cash flow and an uptick in capital spending -- which the company has ramped up to expand its network and integrate its 2G and 3G services -- have meant that the company couldn't fully fund capital expenditures and dividends from cash flow from operations.

I don't expect that this situation will continue, and the company certainly has enough cash on its balance sheet to make up the difference for a while, but it may still be worth keeping an eye on that cash flow statement.

What the bulls say
China Mobile has a perfect five-star rating on CAPS, with nearly 3,200 outperform ratings against a mere 86 underperform ratings. CAPS All-Star Trimalerus -- who is ranked in the top 1% of all CAPS members -- put a bullish thumb up on China Mobile back in April and said:

I have a very small number of Large Cap stocks in my folio and this is my only Mega Cap pick. Attractive buy opportunity as this is near its 52 week low, of course I would have loved to have picked this at $35-38, but nobody is perfect. The Telecommunication market should continue to grow nicely in China as their middle-class expands. And as I said my primary focus is on Small Caps, so that means that this really has to shine for me to pick it to outperform.

Get into the action
You can check out who else has been bullish on these stocks, as well as chime in with your own thoughts by heading over to CAPS.

Dividend stocks could help 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:

NYSE Euronext is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Enterprise Products Partners LP, ONEOK, and PepsiCo are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out the stocks he's keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio or connect with him on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy pays its dividends in reliability.