Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) recently offered a "High Dividend Growth Basket," featuring companies chosen for their high dividend yields and "the potential for above-average growth of dividends." But the plentiful payouts Goldman has highlighted may not be as tantalizing as they first appear.

Below are three of the list's top yielders:

Company

Current Yield

5-Year Avg. Annual Dividend Growth

Payout Ratio

5-Year Avg. Annual Revenue Growth

Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI)

6.9%

3.4%

88%

1%

AT&T (NYSE: T)

5.8%

5.8%

77%

26%

Verizon (NYSE: VZ)

5.9%

3.5%

725%

8%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

Those are mighty tasty yields, but they don't tell the whole story about the companies in question.

Pitney Bowes is most well known for its postage meter machines. Alas, the online age has triggered a decline in paper mail; even the IRS recently announced plans to stop automatically mailing out tax booklets. Pitney Bowes suffers from anemic revenue growth, and it's already paying out nearly 90% of its earnings in dividends, which doesn't bode well for future dividend growth. Its past growth record isn't so stunning, either.

Much of AT&T's revenue growth is tied to its iPhone partnership. If and when the company loses those exclusive rights, its top line could seriously suffer. Verizon is arguably in a better position, but it sports a higher debt-to-equity ratio, which can make hefty dividend increases unlikely for a while. Although its payout ratio is high largely because of big restructuring charges in the past year, it has typically paid out a significant portion of its earnings in dividends.

These companies aren't destined to fail, and they may reward shareholders well over time. But if you're looking for solid dividends and dividend growth, you can always find more compelling stocks. It helps to focus less on the current dividend yield, and more on the dividend growth rate.

I ran a screen for large-cap companies with dividends of 3% or more, and five-year dividend growth rates of 10% or more. The following companies made the cut -- and also sported the highest five-star ratings from our CAPS community of investors:

Company

Current Yield

5-Year Avg. Annual Dividend Growth

Payout Ratio

5-Year Avg. Annual Revenue Growth

Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT)

3.4%

8.7%

48%

9%

China Mobile (NYSE: CHL)

3.2%

42.9%

38%

24%

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP)

3.9%

12.6%

34%

3%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

These companies offer faster dividend growth and lower payout ratios, which make it possible to sustain that growth in the future. Yields in the 3% to 4% range can be more attractive than higher yields if the lower-yielding stock's dividend is likely to grow much faster, and if you're planning to hold your shares for a long time. 

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. The Fool owns shares of China Mobile. Try any of our investing newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.