5 Dividend-Paying Stocks for the Next Decade

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I think for the first half of 2012 the market has done a decent job putting to rest several old adages that I (shamefully) had latched onto, many of which have proven to be not only unfounded but (in my opinion) just blatant lies.

One of these myths is that dividend-paying stocks such as Microsoft ( MSFT) and Intel ( INTC) could no longer be growth stocks.

In fact, not only has this proven to be untrue, it has actually produced the opposite result -- these performers include such names as (underrated) Oracle ( ORCL) as well as several large dividend payers that have contributed to the gains that each of the major indices have experienced so far on the year.

The Case for Cisco

However, in Wall Street's unrelenting appetite for growth, investors continue to discount dividend-paying companies that are considered "mature" can also grow. I guess it can be argued dividend payers have been somewhat misunderstood. However, not all of them are the same.

Take Cisco ( CSCO), which continues to have its share of critics. There are many who remain unimpressed by what it has been able to do of late -- a feat that includes a string of several consecutive earnings beats.

For analysts, the major question continues to be, where is the value? This is the challenge that Cisco has failed to meet. However, it is not because the stock is completely void of potential premiums. Instead, investors just have to be willing to look.

The Case for Microsoft

To find these gems investors have to first consider their investment objectives and first make up their minds on exactly which stocks they think fit the performance criteria they hope to attain. Microsoft presents the perfect case.

For as much as it has been in the news recently for many possible upward catalysts, for reasons that I can't quite comprehend the stock continues to languish.

Though the company will most likely never grow at the rate that it once did, there are plenty of positives to inspire an entry at current levels -- not the least of which has to do with its rave reviews for the anticipated release of its Windows8 OS.

Furthermore, to truly consider and appreciate the current state of the company where competing with the likes of Apple ( AAPL) and Google ( GOOG), one needs to also consider the fact remains that Microsoft still has a business with very good returns on capital and excellent cash flow. It also helps Microsoft pays an excellent dividend.

With the upcoming release of its Surface tablet as well as its entry into social media with its recent purchase of Yammer, Microsoft may yet be the sleeping giant that many have been waiting for to awaken.

I don't think expecting the stock to climb towards the $40 level should be out of the question.

The Case for Oracle

Like Mr. Softy, database giant Oracle struggles with the same negative perception due to the new Wall Street flavors of the month, names such as Saleforce.com ( CRM), EMC ( EMC) and Riverbed ( RVBD).

However, Oracle's strong management and the fact that it specializes in business intelligence continues to be overlooked. It seems within the cloud market, things continue to appear upside-down. Investors are too quick to ignore Oracle's strong cash position, deep market penetration and its innovative strategies, many of which has catapulted to the number 1 database company within the enterprise.

The Case for Intel

The company understands what is at stake and realizes that it cannot rest on its laurels because the competition for its current business as well as those heading for the cloud is growing increasingly fierce. But managing the competition is nothing new.

Value investors who are thirsty for growth and a decent yield should give it a long look at current levels. I can't help but realize that both chip giant Intel as well as AT&T ( T) are in the same boat. Like Apple, Intel is one of those companies that is a recommended buy at any level. With a P/E of 11 and trading at $26 I see at least a 25% upside in the shares in the near term, putting the stock at $33.

Like Oracle and Microsoft, the company continues to be under-appreciated for performance that would place other stocks at their 52-week highs. But for Intel it has to deal with being the victim of its own success, where it now has to be great just to be considered good.

Be that as it may, it remains clear that Intel intends on maintaining its dominance among the semiconductors and has begun to lay down the foundation for its long term success. I think value investors -- or for that matter even growth investors looking for a safe investment in technology and one that pays a respectable dividend at 3.1% -- should buy now, especially when considering how low its P/E of 11 continues to be.

The Case for AT&T

Finally, there is AT&T, a name that I have always liked for its strong yield, which sits at just under 6%. However, I have become more enamored with the company for how it is preparing for the cloud as well as upcoming bandwidth demands relating to mobile phones.

From that standpoint, AT&T is clearly ahead of the curve as it offers what it calls "Synaptic Compute as a Service" along with its VMware ( VMW) vCloud Datacenter Service, a top-of-its-class offering that allows customers access to AT&T's virtualized servers to easily and efficiently alter their capacity as needs dictate. Some of the other features include avoiding procurement delays, reducing capex, speed provisioning and deployment while also responding quickly to business needs.

As great as that sounds, AT&T has been considered a safe haven of sorts for a number of years because of its solid market beating performances and now the future looks even brighter.

Furthermore, as the competition sorts itself out, the company's management is doing an excellent job of focusing on adding shareholder value. The iPhone deal has proven to be the game-changer that it needed to propel the stock going forward. But it continues to prove that it was more than just an iPhone distributor.

Bottom Line

Although there will always be a premium placed on growth companies, those that offer dividends make waiting for growth a tad easier. A dividend check can often be the difference between an investor holding through some tough economic times or opting to cut losses and move on.

Nevertheless, the name of the game is managing risk. To that end there are many ways to do it. Nonetheless, it is always prudent to maintain certain anchors within the portfolio such as the dividend payers highlighted above.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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