Like the Incredible Hulk, dividends are a force to be reckoned with.

If you ask me, there is no better way to quickly determine the overall attractiveness of a stock than by checking out its dividend. Dividends can give you a sense of whether a company is really making money, whether its stock is reasonably valued, and how management views shareholders. All in all, it's a pretty mighty number.

And while most investors are very familiar with dividend royalty like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), there are also plenty of good dividend-paying companies that are small enough to fly under Wall Street's radar. And many of these undercover dividend payers offer higher dividend payouts, better growth, or both.

To uncover some small dividend dynamos, I turned to the Motley Fool CAPS community, looking specifically for companies with a market cap below $5 billion and a dividend yield above 2.5%.


Market Cap

Dividend Yield

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Cellcom Israel

$3.2 billion



Commercial Metals (NYSE:CMC)

$1.7 billion



Prospect Capital (NASDAQ:PSEC)

$691 million



Pool Corp.

$936 million



RPM International

$2.6 billion



Sources: CAPS and Yahoo! Finance.

While the stocks above are all definitely small and dividend-paying, it's apparent that the CAPS community doesn't think they're all worth your investment dollars. They could all be worth researching further, though, and to get you started, let's take a closer look at Commercial Metals.

The business
Commercial Metals operates in five segments: Americas Recycling, Americas Mills, Americas Fabrication and Distribution, International Mills, and International Fabrication and Distribution. The company does everything from scrap-metal recycling, to minimill steel production, to steel fabrication. In addition to operating in the U.S., the company has minimills in Poland and Croatia, as well as sales offices around the world.

Because of the company's use of scrap products and minimills, Nucor (NYSE:NUE) could be considered a primary competitor, though it participates in the larger steel industry, which puts it up against a host of steel magnates like ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) and U.S. Steel (NYSE:X).

The dividend
The recent global economic slowdown has turned Commercial Metals' financials into a fairly scary picture. Between fiscal 2008 and 2009, the company's bottom line dropped from $232 million to $20.8 million, and over the past 12 months it has posted a $72 million loss.

However, there may be reason for dividend investors to not run away screaming. Since the company participates in a very competitive and highly cyclical industry, the recent results are more a reflection of tough times for the industry as a whole, rather than poor execution on Commercial Metals' part. Over the past 12 months, both Nucor and ArcelorMittal have also posted losses. If global recovery has set in, that would likely help all of these companies swing their bottom lines back into the black.

Commercial Metals is also reasonably capitalized with a debt-to-equity ratio of 85% and more than $300 million in cash on its books. And though the company did report that loss over the past year, changes in working capital led to positive operating cash flow of more than $800 million. And while few (if any) dividends are set in stone, Commercial Metals does have a nearly 20-year record of continuously paying dividends.

CAPS members sound off
Of the 528 CAPS members who have weighed in with their opinion on Commercial Metals' stock, 503 think the stock will outperform the rest of the market.

Among the bulls is CAPS All-Star turtle286, who gave the stock a thumbs-up early last year on the expectation that steelmakers in general would benefit as the world economy turns:

Essentially just another metal maker that I believe will outperform others in the space. I see steel, concrete and other industrials leading us on the way out of this and am thus searching the space for those I believe are positioned to do well.

Your turn
Think these dividend payers have what it takes to be top-notch investments? Head over to CAPS and share your thoughts on the prospects for Commercial Metals or any of the other companies listed above.

Commercial Metals may be a good investment opportunity, but my fellow Fool Tim Hanson believes he's found the biggest investment opportunity of the year.

Wal-Mart Stores is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Johnson & Johnson and RPM International are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy has never once been caught with its pants down. Of course, it doesn't actually wear pants ...