"Dividend payments by rated U.S. technology companies will rise again in 2012," explained Moody's analyst Richard Lane in a recent note. Moody's expects that these companies' dividend payments will approach $26 billion in 2012, up 14.3% from 2011. In addition to traditional tech stocks, investors looking for strong dividend plays should also consider telecom giants AT&T ( T) and Verizon ( VZ), which both offer impressive yields. Read on for more details on tech's top 3 dividend stocks:
The company's broader strategy also looks positive. TheStreet ratings gives Microsoft an A grade and good things are expected from the software maker, particularly with the launch of its eagerly-anticipated Windows 8 operating system later this year. "The key to the stock remains the success of Windows 8 product cycle, which could be a nice catalyst to top-line growth," noted FBR Capital Markets' Ives. "Although the jury is still out of how strong this upgrade cycle will ultimately be in the market." Overall, though, investors are getting behind Microsoft after an underwhelming 2011, pushing its shares up more than 14% this year. Rival Google ( GOOG), a famous dividend non-payer, has seen its shares slip more than 11% over the same period. The software giant is also getting plenty of love on Wall Street. Of the 27 analysts surveyed by TheStreet Ratings, 19 rated the company either a 'moderate buy' or 'strong' buy. "