For more than a decade, growth stocks have dominated the headlines. That's because historically low lending rates, a dovish central bank, and more recently a free-spending federal government, have created a perfect storm for fast-growing companies.

But if you pan out and examine the very long-term performance of the stock market, you'll find that dividend stocks are the true outperformers.

Back in 2013, J.P. Morgan Asset Management released a report that compared the average annual returns of publicly traded companies that initiated and grew their dividend between 1972 and 2012 to stocks that didn't pay a dividend over the same time frame. The result? Dividend-paying stocks averaged an annual return of 9.5% over four decades, which compared to a meager 1.6% average annual return for the non-dividend payers.

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