The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.By Todd Shriber NEW YORK ( StreetAuthority) -- One mistake novice income investors make is assuming that the best dividend stocks are the ones they're most familiar with, or the ones most talked about on CNBC or in the mainstream financial press. Sure, well-known dividend stocks such as Dow components Coca-Cola ( KO), Exxon Mobil ( XOM) and Procter & Gamble ( PG) have proven their mettle as dependable dividend payers. Each has a multidecade streak of raising dividends and rewarding shareholders. P&G, for example, touts an uninterrupted string of dividends dating back to the 19th century and a streak of dividend increases for more than 50 years. That's all good, but if the financial crisis taught investors anything, it's that not all dividends are completely safe. Stinging dividend cuts during the crisis from the likes of General Electric ( GE) and the major banks proved as much. Those companies had one thing in common: They were perceived to be strong dividend stocks by the investing public, in part because they were ''known'' entities. Remember, income investing isn't a popularity contest. In fact, there are dependable dividends for the taking among plenty of obscure stocks. These four in particular caught my eye.
The DividendRank formula at Dividend Channel ranks a coverage universe of thousands of dividend stocks, according to a proprietary formula designed to identify those stocks that combine two important characteristics — strong fundamentals and a valuation that looks inexpensive. BancFirst Corp.