These seven stocks have done the impossible.
Each one of them has paid a dividend like clockwork for over a century. In fact, the longest-standing dividend payer on the list hasn't missed a payment since 1877 -- when Rutherford B. Hayes was president.
For the seven stocks I'm about to show you, none of this seemed to matter. These companies breezed through every economic downturn America has ever faced without so much as a hiccup in their dividend payments. In fact, most of them were able to increase their payouts during those periods.
That's a pretty remarkable feat. In 2009 alone, more than 800 American companies had to cut their dividends because of the fallout from the subprime crisis.
Now, to be fair, there is nothing secret about these stocks. You've probably heard of all these companies before. But to me, that's not a deterrent. In fact, it's part of what makes these seven stocks so attractive.
That's because in all my years of investing, I've found that it's not the high-flying tech startups or the risky biotech plays that make investors the most money.
Instead, from what I've seen, the most successful companies are the ones that we see every day. The ones so integral to our way of life, that if they disappeared tomorrow it would have a direct impact on how we live.
Take one of the stocks on the list, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), for example. Ask anyone in the world for a Coke, and chances are that 99% of them will know what you're talking about. Coca-Cola is such a dominant company that one of its biggest competitors -- Dr. Pepper Snapple (NYSE: DPS) -- actually pays to use Coke's distribution network.
Given that kind of market dominance, is there any question as to how Coca-Cola has been able pay an uninterrupted dividend since 1893 and increase its payout by more than 1,220% in the last 25 years alone?
Nothing is guaranteed, but I've found that it's companies like Coca-Cola -- the ones that dominate their markets AND reward shareholders with steady (and increasing) dividends -- that can make investors the most money in the market.
Every stock on the list above is one of the most dominant companies in the world. If any of these businesses were to suddenly go under, it would have a direct impact on the way we live of our daily lives.
That's why when you own stocks like this in your portfolio, you don't have to worry much about bear markets, recessions, government shutdowns or rising interest rates. If history is any indicator, then you just simply let their steady dividend payments grow your wealth year in and year out.
But the rising dividends only tell part of the story. Despite being over 100 years old, each of these stocks has handily beaten the market in the last 10 years. The average total return for the seven stocks is 174% -- significantly higher than the 75% return for the S&P 500 over the same period.
Don't get me wrong, past performance is never an assurance of future success. Just because these stocks have paid consecutive dividends for over a century, it doesn't guarantee they'll continue to do it for another 100 years.
In fact, as much as I like Coca-Cola, it does seem a bit expensive right now. It's currently trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of about 26 -- significantly higher than the S&P's average of 18.
But it just goes to show you that when you buy the market's most dominant companies -- the ones that have a competitive advantage in their industry and show a commitment to their shareholders -- you're buying companies with a dividend that can withstand nearly anything, including the current economic environment.
Rewarding shareholders -- like these companies are known for -- is just one of the criteria I used to complete my recent list of the "Top 10 Stocks For The Next 12 Months."
Now while none of the seven companies I mentioned above made the list, you're probably familiar with many of the ones that are on it. In fact, you likely use many of their products on a daily basis.
One is a leading global retailer with one of the world's most valuable brands, while another owns an 80% stranglehold on its primary market and has turned every $1,000 invested back in 1972 into more than $2.7 million today.
These companies have been crushing the market for years, and I fully expect them to continue doing so in the coming 12 months. To get the names and ticker symbols for each of these firms, you can access the report by clicking here.