NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I like dividend stocks because it's the one way to know for sure how hard the CEO is working for you. Stocks that don't pay a dividend let management off too easy.
Sure, start-ups and growth companies can make a strong case for not paying a dividend now, but after 10 years if a company isn't paying or growing quickly, something may be wrong. History is clearly on my side when comparing dividend-paying companies and nonpayers.
Stocks that pay a dividend on average perform much better than stocks that don't. Even after accounting for micro-caps and pinksheet stocks, dividends are your easiest path toward a stable and appreciating portfolio.
Finding the right ones is no easy task. You want as big of a yield as you can find, but if the company cuts the dividend, not only do you own a lower yielding stock, but probably one worth much less too (ask the RadioShack (RSH) dividend hounds how it's working out for them).I include stocks I already either trade or follow and that have a large dividend. I add in a screen for large-yield stocks and add the ones that are appropriate: GIS data by YCharts
General Mills (GIS - Get Report) Background: General Mills manufactures and markets branded consumer foods worldwide. The company also supplies food products to the foodservice and commercial baking industries. The company was founded in 1928 and is based in Minneapolis, Minn. General Mills trades an average of 4 million shares per day with a marketcap of $26 billion. 52-Week-Range: $36.75 to $41.06 Book Value: $10.31 Price to Book: 3.9 Payout Percentage: 49% Investors are receiving $1.32 in dividends for a yield of 3.20% after General Mills raised the dividend amount from 30.5 cents a share up to 33 cents per quarter. If General Mills is able to reach the current fiscal year estimated earnings of $2.67, the dividend payout is below 50%, essentially alleviating worries about a dividend cut absent a major catalyst. The five-year dividend growth rate is negative; however, the company increased the dividend twice after cutting the dividend to 28 cents in early 2010. After two increases, I am comfortable they are on the right track. The average analyst target price for General Mills is $42.31, allowing considerable upside before analysts may rethink the premium. The last reported short interest is paltry and not meaningful with only 1.9% of the average trading float. The daily chart isn't the prettiest girl at the dance, and if I only looked at daily charts I may take a pass. General Mills appears notably strong on the weekly chart, plus did I mention they raised the dividend twice in the last two years? A 3% dividend is sweeter than Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but another dividend increase is healthier for your portfolio than the Green Giant. TheStreet's Christopher Versace writes about General Mills in