The 10 Best Dividend Stocks of All Time

Dividends play an unsurprisingly prominent role when it comes to long-term wealth creation.

(Image credit: iStock)

Dividends play an unsurprisingly prominent role when it comes to long-term wealth creation. Indeed, take a look at the best stocks of all time, and you'll see that most of them have long histories of returning cash to shareholders through regular dividend payments.

We know this thanks to research by a finance professor who made a startling discovery about the stock market: Over a 90-year span, 96% of all stocks collectively performed no better than risk-free one-month Treasury bills. After analyzing the lifetime returns of 25,967 common stocks, Hendrik Bessembinder, of Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business, determined that just 1,092 of those stocks -- or about 4% of the total -- generated all of the $34.8 trillion in wealth created for shareholders by the stock market between July 1926 and December 2016. Even more striking, a mere 50 stocks accounted for well over one-third (39.3%) of that amount.

Although price appreciation did much of the heavy lifting, dividends played a key role in wealth creation, as well.

Now, here's a look at the 10 best-performing dividend payers since 1926, culled from these top-50 stocks.

Stocks are listed in reverse order of the dollar amount of lifetime wealth creation, which includes reinvested dividends. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent quarterly payout and dividing by the share price. Current stock data as of April 16. Analysts' ratings provided by Zacks (opens in new tab). For more details on Bessembinder's study methodology and findings, download a copy of his paper, "Do Stocks Outperform Treasury Bills?" (opens in new tab)

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Dan Burrows is a financial writer at Kiplinger, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.


A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.


Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.


In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics and more.


Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.


Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.