We tend to assume that we have to make a choice in investing: Either opt for a powerful grower, perhaps one in the dynamic technology-heavy realm, or choose a steady, dependable dividend payer. There's some truth to that, but less than you think. Better still, many technology companies are poised to be strong dividend payers.

Yes, many big names currently offer no dividend at all, such as Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) and Yahoo!. But some tech-focused outfits do offer significant dividends. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), for example, offers not only the chance to profit from its dominant chip business and its expansion into the wireless industry via its Infineon acquisition, but also a dividend yield of 3.3%. (It has increased that dividend by an annual average of more than 15% over the past five years, too!)

What if ...?
Things change all the time, though. Companies that are growing rapidly tend to hang on to their extra cash to fuel their growth or have on hand for acquisitions and other needs. When their growth slows and their earnings become more predictable, the paying of dividends can become an effective way to reward shareholders. Many big tech names are looking at that kind of future.

The table below shows what kind of yields they may be able to offer. I'm basing the estimate on their free cash flow over the past year and am assuming that they'd pay out just 50% of it, keeping the other half in their war chest.

Company

Free Cash Flow (FCF)*

Current Dividend Yield

Yield Based on 50% of FCF

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)

$14.3 billion

N/A

2.7%

Oracle

$8.5 billion

0.8%

3.1%

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ)

$8.4 billion

0.8%

4.4%

Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO)

$8.0 billion

N/A

3.2%

Dell

$3.3 billion

N/A

6.6%

Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN)

$1.9 billion

1.9%

3.0%

Adobe

$833 million

N/A

2.4%

Data: Morningstar. *Trailing 12 months.

Buy for growth, wait for yield
The possible yields above are tantalizing, but they're still just fiction. You're not out of luck, though. You might simply buy into the technology companies you most believe in and wait for them to turn into dividend payers, as they likely will eventually. In the meantime, you can profit via their share-price appreciation. There's certainly a lot to like about each of the companies, and their brethren.

Apple has turned itself around in a big way with the huge success of iPhones, iPads, and even its Mac computers, which are experiencing record sales levels lately. Cisco is chasing a "trillion-dollar gold rush" by building "smart communities" that feature green technological infrastructure. Oracle, meanwhile, has been enjoying strong sales of its software, with new license sales rising briskly and an expansion into hardware powered partly by its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Semiconductor giant Texas Instruments isn't slouching -- it's expanding its manufacturing capacity and moving into higher-margin mobile processors. It's also rewarding shareholders via stock repurchases. Hewlett-Packard, with more than $14 billion in cash, is another powerful potential acquirer. With its stock recently depressed, an announced $10 billion stock repurchase plan may pay off well for shareholders and the company is looking at billions in revenue from military contracts. These companies are all powerhouses with a world of possibility.

It's not far-fetched to imagine these companies continuing to grow robustly for years to come, while paying dividends and also offering stock-price appreciation.

If you just really want to stuff your portfolio with dividends, that's a reasonable investment strategy, too. After all, dividends are much more powerful than most of us realize. You can bypass the companies above for now (perhaps with the exception of Texas Instruments) and wait until they offer significant dividends. In the meantime, compelling dividend payers abound, as our recent recession has driven many stock prices down and dividend yields up.

History suggests that this is a great time to buy stocks. Research and keep up with the ones that interest you by adding them to our new feature, My Watchlist.

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 owns shares of Apple. Apple and Adobe Systems are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool has a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Fool owns shares of Intel and Oracle. Try any of our investing newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.