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Ten U.S. dividend stocks to weather a stormy economy Add to ...

The sailing adage "any port in a storm" might apply to dividend-paying stocks as economic growth slows.

They're a good place to anchor up while the economy sorts itself out. The stocks offer strong returns via dividends as well as the potential for share-price appreciation.

While they can't guarantee you won't have losses, dividend stocks can help limit them. Plus, a steady dividend is indicative of a company with growing earnings.

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Dividend stocks are more attractive than ever. The U.S. economy produced only 54,000 jobs last month, more than 100,000 less than forecast by most economists, according to a government report today. That's as the housing industry falls into a deeper slump, and consumers rein in spending. U.S. benchmark equity indices today fell to their lowest closing levels since March.

Still, some shares may outperform indices including the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 Index.

Here are 10 stocks that could be your safe harbor:

1. Healthcare Services Group , through its subsidiaries, provides housekeeping, laundry, linen, facility maintenance, and food services to nursing and retirement homes, as well as rehabilitation centres and hospitals.

Its shares, which have a projected yield of 3.85 per cent on its current price of $16.14 (U.S.), have gained 2.6 per cent this year and 24 per cent over the past 12 months.

2. BlackRock , with more than $3.5-trillion in assets under management, is the largest asset manager in the world. Its institutional clients account for more than two-thirds of the firm's assets under management.

BlackRock's shares, which have a projected 2.76 per cent dividend yield based on its current price of $194.87, have gained 5.4 per cent this year and 24 per cent over the past 12 months. The company has a $38-billion market value.

3. Walgreen , one of the largest U.S. retail drug chains with over 8,000 stores, has a product base that's largely unaffected by changes in consumer habits as prescription drugs account for more than two-thirds of its sales.

Walgreen has paid a dividend for 78 consecutive years and has raised it for 35 consecutive years. The company has increased its dividend by a compound annual growth rate of 24.3 per cent over the past six years.

Its shares, which have a projected yield of 1.62 per cent, have gained 12 per cent this year and 37.5 per cent over the past year. Walgreen has a market value of $40-billion.

4. Frontier Communications serves about 2.1 million phone-line and 650,000 high-speed-Internet-access customers under the Frontier brand in 24 states. It is set to merge with a business to be spun out of Verizon that serves about 4 million phone lines.

Its shares, which have a projected yield of 8.6 per cent, based on its current price of $8.64, are down 9 per cent this year, but up 16.5 per cent over the past 12 months.

5. Invesco Mortgage Capital is a real estate investment trust that acquires, finances, and manages residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities and mortgage loans.

Its shares, which have a projected yield of 17.7 per cent based on its current share price of $22.25, are up 8 per cent this year and 26 per cent over the past 12 months. Its market value is $1.6-billion.

6. Kimberly-Clark is known for its health and hygiene product line, including bathroom tissues, diapers, feminine products, and paper towels under the brand names Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups and Kotex.

Its shares, which have a projected dividend yield of 4.19 per cent on its current $65.75 share price, have gained 7.2 per cent this year and 12.8 per cent over the past 12 months.

7. French oil giant Total ranks among the top 10 publicly traded integrated oil companies, and its efforts to explore for and develop new oil and gas fields should continue to pay off in the future.

Its shares, which have a projected yield of 4.77 per cent on its current share price of $55.80, are up 7.6 per cent this year and 25 per cent over the past 12 months. The company has a market value of $131-billion.

8. For investors seeking income first and share appreciation second, there is CreXus Investment , a commercial real estate finance company. It acquires and finances commercial mortgage loans and other commercial real estate debt.

Its shares, which have a projected yield of 8.34 per cent on its current price of $10.95, have lost 14 per cent this year and 8.8 per cent over the past 12 months. The company has a market value of $845-million.

The $4.3-billion Wells Fargo Advantage Small-Cap Value Fund owns 23 per cent of its shares.

9. El Paso Pipeline Partners is an El Paso, Texas-based master limited partnership with interests in interstate gas pipelines and storage facilities. It owns 100 per cent of the 700-mile Wyoming Interstate pipeline and holds a 58 per cent interest in the Colorado Interstate Gas pipeline.

Its shares have a projected yield of 5.4 per cent on its current price of $33.89. Those shares are up 4 per cent this year and 33 per cent over the past 12 months.

10. Vector Group is a U.S.-based cigarette manufacturer and its product line includes discount, generic brands. It also produces cigarettes in Russia. Recently, the company launched Quest, which it claims is a genetically engineered nicotine-free cigarette.

Its shares, which have a projected yield of 8.5 per cent based on its share price of $18.60, are up 10.5 per cent this year and 33 per cent over the past 12 months. The shares have a market value of $1.4-billion.

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