Faith in the consumer is apparent elsewhere. Jon Markman, editor of Trader's Advantage, positions chocolate giant and perennial dividend darling Hershey (HSY) as his best buy-and-hold pick for 2012. The stock yields 2.3 percent. Demand for chocolate as a feel-good treat makes it more of a consumer staple than a discretionary purchase, some would argue.
Hershey is the largest candy maker in North America, controlling 43 percent of all chocolate sales. It also makes cookies, snack bars, baking ingredients and beverages, notes Markman.
More broadly, longer-term dividend statistics look pretty sweet as well. Stocks or funds offer an attractive income component to a diversified strategy. Data from Ned Davis Research shows that between 1972 and 2010, dividend-paying stocks returned 8.6 percent versus 1.4 percent for non-dividend companies.
There's some "insurance" to be found in dividends. Ned Davis data also show that during periods of market decline between 1970 and 2000, dividend payers outperformed stocks sans-dividends by 1.5 percent per month.