When the clock-radio woke me up the other morning, the first thing I heard was the results of a survey on what people least want to give up during these hard times. The three winners were tobacco, alcohol, and chocolate.

The survey didn’t ask people what they are most willing to give up. If it had, I bet the stock market would have made the top three. Many investors have backed away from the turbulence of a market that is up 700 points one day and down 400 points the next (or vice versa).

Perhaps they’re not aware of a special group of companies that can offer them shelter from this storm. Companies that can give them steady and/or rising paychecks even in a rollicking market.

These companies give their shareholders dividend payments. The trick is to invest in big, solid, and growing companies or companies that do very well in a recession. The companies that do both, like giant cigarette-maker Altria (MO) – Marlboro is its best-known brand – are your best bet. These companies aren’t guaranteed to go up month after month. They may even have some down years. But as long as you keep holding on to their stock, you’ll have no actual losses… and you still get those checks in the mail. Right now, for example, Altria is offering a 6.9 percent yield to investors. That’s more than twice what you could get with any savings account.

Andrew Gordon

Andrew Gordon is a former editorial contributor for Early To Rise Investor’s Edition. He has 20 years of experience working in infrastructure and environmental projects around the world. When he wasn’t traveling, he taught marketing and finance courses at the state university of Maryland. Mr. Gordon has authored several books for McGraw Hill and other publishing companies on energy markets, global countertrade practices and the hot growth sectors of China and Russia. He is also a top-rated speaker at financial conferences.