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Source: Pictures of Money via Flickr.

More often than not, dividend stocks provide the foundation for some of the best retirement portfolios.

Dividend stocks can be an investor's best friend for a handful of reasons. For starters, dividends are typically only paid out when a business feels confident that it can produce recurring profits for the foreseeable future. In other words, a recurring dividend payment is a good signal of a healthy business model. Secondly, dividend payments put money in your pocket that can encourage you to hang on for the long-term -- letting you avoid short-term capital gains taxes, as well as help allay the inevitable pullbacks that the stock market endures. Finally, dividend payments afford you the opportunity to reinvest your stipend back into more shares of stock, thus compounding your gains over time.

However, not all dividend stocks are created equal. Some high-yield dividends can mask underlying problems in a business model, which could make a dividend payment unsustainable over the long run. This is why it pays for investors to dig below the surface with every dividend stock regardless of its yield to determine if it has the tools necessary to win for investors over the long run.

With that in mind, I propose to do some "digging" today by exposing a handful of solid high-yield dividend stocks that some investors are ignoring, but which could have a huge effect on your investment portfolio or retirement account over the long run. As always, consider these suggestions of where to begin your research into under-the-radar, high-yield dividend stocks rather than an endpoint to your research.

Cdc Fb
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HCP (NYSE:HCP)
When it comes to hunting for high-yield dividends it seems that many investors have a one-track mind aimed at mortgage real estate investment trusts and their bounty of double-digit yields. But if you want a substantially safer return among REITs, you should direct your attention to HCP.

Like other REITs, HCP makes money by investing in real estate. What makes HCP unique is its focus on healthcare real estate, such as senior care facilities, hospitals, medical offices, life science laboratories, and so on. Last I checked, with the life expectancy of the average American rising and the Affordable Care Act opening up healthcare access to more than 11 million people, the demand for health services is only expected to climb. This means HCP's rental pricing power and property value are likely to rise as well.

In HCP's most recent quarter, the company boosted its funds from operation (FFO) forecast for the remainder of 2015, and -- more importantly -- lifted its funds available for distribution forecast. In fact, HCP is part of an elite class of dividend stocks known as Dividend Aristocrats that have raised their dividends a minimum of 25 straight years. HCP has increased its payout for each of the past 30 years.

Currently sporting a 6% yield, the dynamics of the healthcare industry look conducive to solid long-term FFO growth for HCP.

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Source: Flickr user Marjan Lazarevski. 

Orange (NYSE:ORAN)
Consider Orange, one of Europe's largest telecommunications providers, a victim of weakness in the EU. For more than a half decade Orange has struggled with subpar growth in Europe and a wireless price war in France, its home country where around half of its business originates. But it appears that all those years of infrastructure investment are about to pay off.

Within France, Orange has been busy spending money on improving the speed and scope of its next-generation wireless network. Though its data plan prices are higher than its prime competitor's, it's been able to drastically narrow its domestic wireless revenue decline -- excluding regulatory costs, its domestic wireless revenue actually rose on a year-over-year basis in Q2 -- thanks to the emergence of next-generation smartphones which are allowing French citizens to take advantage of Orange's infrastructure improvements.

Orange's push into Africa is another source of long-term growth potential. Following the divestiture of a handful of non-core assets, Orange has focused its attention on Africa by boosting its stake in Morocco's Meditel and commencing talks with Bharti Airtel about purchasing its subsidiaries in Burkina Faso, Congo Brazzaville, Sierra Leone, and Chad. Africa represents a multi-decade growth opportunity for Orange.

Boasting an attractive forward P/E of 14 and a dividend yield of 5.4%, Orange could prove to be the new green for investors.

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Source: Kinder Morgan.

Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI)
Finally, the collapse in oil prices has sent most investors running as fast as they can from the oil and gas industry, which could actually prove to be a mistake if it leads them to ignore America's midstream giant Kinder Morgan.

Kinder Morgan's purpose is to transport oil and gas, process it, store it, you name it. It's the in-between connecting the driller and the endpoint consumer. While the dip in oil prices has drillers worried (and with good reason), it's not much of a blip on Kinder Morgan's radar yet. The reasoning is that Kinder Morgan locks its customers into long-term contracts which allow it a near crystal-clear long-term view of the type of production it'll be transporting and the type of cash flow it'll be generating.

Furthermore, despite a steep drop-off in U.S. drill rig counts of more than 50% over the past year, actual production hasn't tapered one bit. In fact, crude production per rig is up more than 130% since Jan. 2014. This bodes well for Kinder Morgan's transport pipelines and its terminals, which store refined product. As the U.S. pushes for continued independence from foreign oil sources, the demand for oil and gas infrastructure should grow, playing right into the hands of Kinder Morgan.

My suggestion? Don't be afraid of the premier midstream company in the U.S., and give its 6% dividend yield a closer look.

Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool owns shares of, and recommends Kinder Morgan. It also recommends Orange. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.