3 Dividend Growth Stocks I Have Been Buying at Any Price

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- While I enjoy writing and debating about my more speculative positions, dividend-paying growth stocks comprise a majority of my portfolio. I own a few stodgy stocks, but, for the most part, you cannot call my dividend payers boring. In fact, you might classify some as controversial.

Over the weekend, Barron's ran an excellent article making the bull case for Time Warner ( TWX).

According to Barron's, some TWX bulls see 25% upside in the stock, thanks to the company's aggressive dividend and share buyback programs, key franchises such as HBO and the deals it has in place to air major professional sports via its Turner division. While I love the 3% yield and HBO, the sports angle stands at the fore of my bullishness.

Let's take something Barron's highlighted a step further. The premium sports programming gives TWX leverage as it negotiates rates with cable companies. In other words, Time Warner can make a cable company pay up for less desirable programming out of fear it will lose access to key sports content.

As television continues to morph into an on-demand and cross-platform product, the time something airs becomes meaningless. That said, most people tend to adhere to a schedule for big sporting events. It's not quite the same to have to hide from the score for a period of time and watch a rebroadcast of something that already took place. This type of appointment viewing is scarce. The companies that control it and can leverage it via increasingly creative, demographically relevant (and multiplatform) advertising and delivery methods will not only sustain, but prosper.

I would love to see Time Warner make an aggressive run at a regional powerhouse such as Madison Square Garden ( MSG) to add diversity and heft to an already diverse and hefty stable. To take control of key regional networks (the family MSG television networks), several major professional teams (including the Rangers and Knicks) and important regional venues (the Garden), Time Warner would have to answer to regulators because, after all, this is not Canada.

Every time I hear a conservative radio host or somebody on Fox News refer to Canada as "socialist," I spit Labatt Blue through my nose. If there's a socialist republic in North America (and it's evident to anybody who took Intro to Political Science that there is not), it's the U.S.A. Just ask General Motors ( GM). AT&T ( T) and T-Mobile can tell you a thing or two about our capitalist nation's refusal to let the free market do its thing. But please, allow me to digress ...

It would take some serious lobbying and incredibly persuasive testimony to Congress by Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes if the company attempted to pull off anything close to what Rogers Communications ( RCI) has going for it in Canada. I hammer this theme home because what Rogers (and BCE ( BCE)) does north of the border stands pretty much without precedent. And most American investors ignore the situation.

I provide a pretty thorough rundown of Rogers' (and BCE's) domination in the following articles on TheStreet: Two Stocks to Buy Before They Take Over Canada (May 3, 2012) and Why I Am Long Rogers and Bell (April 13, 2012).

As stocks, TWX and RCI have shared experiences over the last three months. RCI is down nearly 12%, thanks in part to a somewhat weak quarterly earnings report. And TWX has dropped almost 5%. RCI's dividend produces a stronger yield than TWX at 4.4%.

In any event, the dividends (which I reinvest) and the ability to write covered calls just add to the allure of accumulating these hybrid value/growth plays while they're down.

Verizon Communications ( VZ) yields more than TWX and RCI at 4.7%, plus it has been on a serious bull run. Over the last three months, VZ has returned north of 9% and hit multiple new 52-week highs, including Tuesday's intraday peak of $42.95.

As Cramer noted the other night on his Mad Money program, why would you waste your time on a stock like Frontier Communications ( FTR) when you can own VZ? Ultimately, it comes down to being a sucker for yield.

Picking FTR over VZ boggles my mind as well. Do the math over the last year. It takes less than five minutes and it can spare you from a world of hurt.

Despite FTR's massive dividend yield (11.6%), it still gets crushed performance-wise by VZ. If you bought 100 shares of FTR one year ago it cost you roughly $7.87 per share. That's a $787 investment. Today, with FTR trading at about $3.67, you have $367 before dividend payments for a loss of 53.4%.

We'll be generous and give you all four dividend payments over the last year (two at 18.8 cents a share and two at 10 cents a share). You would have collected $57.60, offsetting just a fraction of your loss. The dividend turns your 53.4% hit into a 46.0% loss.

A $787 investment in VZ one year ago provided you with a relatively paltry 22.16 shares. Over the course of a year, before the dividend payment, that $787 morphed into $951.55 for a gain of 21%. Factor in four dividend payments -- one at 48.8 cents and three at 50 cents -- and you have $995.60 and a 26.5% gain.

There's not much more to say there, other than do not let the allure of low-priced stocks and large dividend yields turn you into a loser. Every investor should consider dividend stocks for their portfolio. Be sure to pick the ones that consistently increase their payouts (TWX, RCI and VZ all have a history of doing so) inside a business model that operates from a position of strength with room to innovate and grow.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
At the time of publication, the author was long TWX, RCI and VZ. He is also long MSG in a custodial account he manages for his minor child.