NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- High-yield dividend stocks are in focus, as income-oriented investors focus on stable paydays to boost their 401(k) funds. But if you think dividends and high-yield stocks mean settling for boring companies that do little in the way of stock appreciation, think again. You can find exciting stocks even in rather ho-hum sectors many investors think unsexy. Take utility stocks, which offer high yields and stable revenue streams. These picks may seem safe, sleepy bets, but several utility stocks are breaking out right now and offering big share appreciation alongside hefty dividend payouts. Here are my favorite 15 dividend stock investments now based on share appreciation.
Electric Utilities to Buy
CPFL Energia ( CPL) generates and distributes electricity in Brazil and has watched its stock price climb 15% since January and 32.7% in the last 12 months. Southern Co. ( SO) owns the common stock of numerous southeastern U.S. electric companies and has outperformed earnings estimates for four straight quarters, while also gaining 15.7% year to date. Pepco Holdings ( POM) is a diversified energy company that has experienced a stock jump of 19.8% since last September.
Delta Natural Gas ( DGAS) distributes and transports natural gas to approximately 37,000 customers in Kentucky. Its stock has risen 14.4% over the past year. Suburban Propane Partners ( SPH) is a distributor of propane and marketer natural gas whose shares have climbed 12.5% year to date and 26.5% since last September. South Jersey Industries ( SJI) is a holding company based in New Jersey. Its stock has jumped 34.4% over the past 12 months.
Power Producers and Energy Traders
Empresa Nacional de Electricidad ( EOC) is a Chilean electric energy company that has watched its stock jump 7.1% since January and 13.3% since September 2009. Calpine ( CPN) is a U.S.-based wholesale power company whose shares have climbed 13.7% year to date. TransAlta ( TAC) is a wholesale power company operating in the U.S., Canada and Australia. This stock has risen 4.4% since last September.
Dominion Resources ( D) is a producer and transporter of energy that has outperformed earnings estimates for four consecutive quarters and shows an impressive stock gain of 27.4% over the past year. Wisconsin Energy ( WEC) owns subsidiaries in utility energy and nonutility energy. This stock has gained 26.2% since last September. Integrys Energy Group ( TEG) provides regulated natural gas to over 1.6 million customers in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. Its stock has soared an impressive 41% in the last year.
Aqua America ( WTR) is a regulated utilities holding company operating in 14 states that has gained 18.5% in stock price since January.