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 our Motley Fool Income Investor service's mission.

RPM International, for example, has returned nearly 50% since October 2003, and it currently is rewarding investors with a 3.9% yield. Or consider Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), which has returned 15% since April 2006, atop a current 2.5% 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 89,000-plus members of our CAPS community:




Intel (NYSE: INTC)



Boeing (NYSE: BA)



Apollo Investment (Nasdaq: AINV)



Banco Santander (NYSE: STD)



PetroChina (NYSE: PTR)



Source: Capital IQ, Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS as of March 24.

Any one of these quality companies would add some dividend excellence to your portfolio, but let's kick off further research with a look at Boeing.

Sorting through a defense debacle
It was an upset of almost epic proportions. To put it in March Madness terms, Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) and EADS -- the parent of Airbus -- beating Boeing for the U.S. Air Force's $35 billion contract for new refueling aircraft would be like North Carolina falling to, say, Duke. It was a shock.

Part of this story, though, includes a scandal from 2003. An acquisition officer in the Air Force acted like a Boeing lobbyist on a multibillion-dollar refueler deal. The mess resulted in the ejection of both the CEO and CFO of Boeing, and probably created a push for more competition on the current bidding process for the Air Force's KC-X tanker.

Boeing isn't taking this loss lying down. It is appealing the Air Force's decision, but whether it still has a chance to get in on the deal is not clear.

The loss for Boeing has hurt both its business and its stock, and the stock is down around 12% since the middle of February. Meanwhile, Boeing has experienced delivery delays in its new 787 Dreamliner because of last-minute changes and production problems.

Long-term investors, however, are wondering how much this affects the strength of Boeing's overall business and its prospects. On CAPS, players have been very positive on Boeing, even with these problems. Even the bears have had good things to say. One Boeing bear, Broy76, is concerned about the current Dreamliner problems, but noted:

Boeing has a bright side. They are booked with orders until 2012 thanks to a booming air industry in China. If they can get the Dreamliner on track Boeing could get back over $100.

And don't forget that with the company's stock price depressed -- it's currently down 31% from its 52-week high -- new investors can take advantage of a higher dividend yield.

You can see who else has been bullish on Boeing, and chime in with your own thoughts by heading over to CAPS. Read about other top-rated dividend payers while you're there.

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:

RPM International, Johnson & Johnson, and Apollo Investment are Income Investor recommendations; Intel is a pick from Inside Value. You can test drive Income Investor  free for 30 days.

Yankees fan and Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer hopes the Yanks can continue their legendary excellence (this year?), and has his fingers crossed that the Cowboys never will get back to the top again. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy is a true investing dynasty.