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The 10 Best Dividend Stocks of All Time

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Dividends play an unsurprisingly prominent role when it comes to long-term wealth creation. Indeed, take a look at the best stocks of all time, and you'll see that most of them have long histories of returning cash to shareholders through regular dividend payments.

We know this thanks to research by a finance professor who made a startling discovery about the stock market: Over a 90-year span, 96% of all stocks collectively performed no better than risk-free one-month Treasury bills. After analyzing the lifetime returns of 25,967 common stocks, Hendrik Bessembinder, of Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business, determined that just 1,092 of those stocks -- or about 4% of the total -- generated all of the $34.8 trillion in wealth created for shareholders by the stock market between July 1926 and December 2016. Even more striking, a mere 50 stocks accounted for well over one-third (39.3%) of that amount.

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Although price appreciation did much of the heavy lifting, dividends played a key role in wealth creation, as well.

Now, here's a look at the 10 best-performing dividend payers since 1926, culled from these top-50 stocks.

SEE ALSO: 50 Dividend Stocks You Can Count On in 2018 and Beyond

Stocks are listed in reverse order of the dollar amount of lifetime wealth creation, which includes reinvested dividends. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent quarterly payout and dividing by the share price. Current stock data as of April 16. Analysts' ratings provided by Zacks. For more details on Bessembinder's study methodology and findings, download a copy of his paper, "Do Stocks Outperform Treasury Bills?"

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