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TheStreet Open House

10 Top Dividend Stocks to Own Until Retirement

(To add That Goldman Sachs Cut Philip Morris' rating To Neutral From Buy.)

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- If the past is indeed prologue, now is the time to get conservative and consider these less-than-barn-burning stocks, which have outperformed lots of high-fliers.

This is an especially important consideration if you're looking at your retirement years, and you can't stomach another decade of volatile and negligible returns as we've seen over the past decade.

For the most part, they're boring companies. But so what? The hard chargers at the mutual fund companies turned in a total return, including dividends, of a loss of 0.5% in 2011, according to Morningstar. These stocks did better.

In most cases, they posted a share-price return in the high single-digits, and that, coupled with big dividends, will serve as a sea-anchor to your portfolio, especially if you're over age 50 and looking at your retirement years with trepidation.

In the 20-20 hindsight we all crave, the odds are you could have done better with a portfolio made up of high-paying dividends stocks, and a modicum of these shares with a share-price gain. So you could say a "Hail Mary" for your portfolio, or better yet, bet on old reliables like these.

Yes, they can be boring or even lugubrious as corporations, but these companies churn out steady cash flow year after year and have held their value like no other stocks. That's because they're into something we can't live without, such as telecommunications and gasoline.

For example, AT&T (T - Get Report), created out of the "Ma Bell" bust-up, returned over $10 billion to shareholders in the past decade -- it's now at a current yield of 5.9% -- and on top of that had a 10-year average annual return of 1.7%.

But there's a wrinkle in the numbers, as cigarette maker Altria Group (MO), perhaps one of the leaders in the "sin" stocks category, is barely off the top-10 queue at a payer of $3.7 billion in dividends during the past decade. It now has one of the highest current yields, at 5.6%, and couple that with its 10-year, 10.5% share-price appreciation, you have a pretty heavenly investment.

Here are the 10 highest dividend payers of the past decade, per Standard & Poor's senior analyst Howard Silverblatt, and ranked in terms of total payouts. Keep in mind that the yield will change constantly with the underlying share price.

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