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Investors Run to Safety of Top Dividend Stocks

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The rollercoaster stock market has investors running for shelter in the form of top-rated companies that pay high dividends or mutual funds that invest in them.

All U.S. equity mutual fund categories have seen large outflows this year, except for so-called equity-income funds, which took in $11 billion through Aug. 10, Standard & Poor's said. Investors are piling into the safest stocks as the U.S. economy is slowing. Just today, Morgan Stanley lowered its forecast for global economic growth.

The firm's MarketScope Advisor unit recently highlighted its three top-rated "five-star" equity-income funds that are benefiting from those flows and suggests that "investors should follow suit" in their investment choices.

Those funds are the $4 billion Columbia Dividend Income Fund (GSFTX), which has a yield of 2.36% and a loss of 3% this year; the $5.8 billion Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund (VDIGX), which has a yield of 1.99% yield and a loss of 0.7%; and the $5.6 billion Vanguard Equity Income Fund (VEIPX), which has a yield of 2.72% and a loss of 0.2%. The benchmark S&P 500 Index of U.S. stocks, in contrast, has fallen 4%.

With that in mind, we reviewed those funds and came up with seven stocks that they added to significantly or initiated stakes in during the second quarter:

The Columbia Dividend Income Fund about doubled its stake in Linear Technology (LLTC) to 539,000 shares, or 0.5% of its portfolio. The company, with a market value of $6.2 billion, makes high-performance analog integrated circuits for the industrial, automotive, communications and high-end consumer electronics industries. It carries a dividend yield of 3.53% and its shares are down 20% this year.

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Stock quotes in this article: GSFTX, VDIGX, VEIPX, LLTC, NOC, MAT, UN, VOD, ED, JNJ 

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