Every bullish run or bearish retreat offers a great opportunity to learn something about the market and the publicly traded companies that make it happen. So what did 2012's monstrously good first quarter teach the observant investor?
The bad news is that the stock market, as measured by the S&P 500, sits at 1,131, a low point it hasn't traded near consistently since late 2009. The worse news is that there's every reason to believe it will decline further to below 900, back to levels it hit around March 2009.
Companies with strong balance sheets and high dividends will be among the few safe investment harbors if the economy continues to cool -- and given today's conditions, it's hard to imagine how the recent stock market rally could last much longer. Here are five dividend stocks that should keep paying strong returns.