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The Kiplinger Dividend 15: Our Favorite Dividend-Paying Stocks

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Investors are clamoring for dividends these days, and corporate America is happy to oblige. Profits are rolling in at such a healthy clip that companies in Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index are on track to raise their payouts by an average of 8% this year. Analysts estimate that 2018 will be even better, with dividends rising by an average of more than 9%, according to S&P.

For income investors, though, finding good dividend-paying stocks isn’t as easy as selecting a fund that mirrors the S&P 500. The index yields just 2%—barely enough to stay ahead of inflation. But if you know where to look, you can find big, blue-chip companies that have raised their dividends steadily for decades. Other companies are finding ways to sustain payouts well above 4%, and still others are hiking payouts at above-average rates, giving investors a hefty raise each year.

Enter the Kiplinger Dividend 15, the list of our favorite dividend-paying stocks. To make it into our lineup, stocks had to first beat the S&P's 2% average. We then looked for firms that are leaders in their industry and that have solid prospects for expanding their sales and profits, while also generating enough cash to pay investors. And we aim to avoid dividend traps—stocks with high yield but weak underlying businesses and poor prospects.

We split them into three groups: Dividend Stalwarts, sturdy companies that have increased their dividends for at least 20 consecutive years; Dividend Growers, businesses that are delivering growth in revenues and profits, providing fuel for strong total returns (a mix of stock-price gains and dividends), and High Yield (over 4%). Pick some from each group to customize your mix to suit your goals. You might emphasize steady Eddies if stability is important to you, or high-yield stocks if you want larger payouts (and can tolerate more risk).

Data is as of Sept. 29, 2017. Click on symbol links in each slide for current share prices and more.

SEE ALSO: 7 Reliable Dividend Stocks to Buy Now

Five-year dividend growth rate is annualized. Sources: Companies, S&P Dow Jones Indices, Yahoo Finance

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