Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we’re offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our ‘no quibbles’ 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee. Edward Sheldon, CFA | Monday, 20th January, 2020 See all posts by Edward Sheldon, CFA In the current low-interest-rate environment, dividend stocks are getting a lot of attention. That’s not really surprising when you consider that many dividend-paying stocks offer yields of 5% or more – much higher than the interest rates on savings account. Royal Dutch Shell shares, for example, offer a yield of around 6.2%, which is attractive when savings accounts are only paying 1% or so. Are dividend stocks a good investment though? Let’s take a look at some research.Dividend stock researchNow, I’d love to be able to show you some research in relation to the long-term performance of UK dividend stocks, but research studies involving UK dividend payers are few and far between. So let’s look at research into US dividend stocks. One of the best studies in this regard is by independent firm Ned Davis Research. In this study, analysts examined the performance of dividend stocks in the S&P 500 index between 31 January 1972 and 31 December 2018. 5G is here – and shares of this ‘sleeping giant’ could be a great way for you to potentially profit!According to one leading industry firm, the 5G boom could create a global industry worth US$12.3 TRILLION out of thin air…And if you click here we’ll show you something that could be key to unlocking 5G’s full potential…Strong returns What the analysts found is that, over this period, dividend stocks as a whole delivered total returns (dividends and capital appreciation) of 8.78% per year. That’s certainly a healthy return. By contrast, the equally-weighted S&P 500 index generated an annualised return of 7.3%, while non-dividend-paying stocks delivered annualised returns of 2.4%. This suggests that dividend stocks are indeed good long-term investments and could potentially be better ones than non-dividend-paying stocks. Dividend growers = the best returnsWhat’s really interesting is that a specific subset of dividend stocks delivered even higher returns. Indeed, the study found that the dividend stocks that performed the best over this period were those that had grown their dividends or started dividends. These companies delivered annualised returns of 9.62%. Moreover, they generated higher returns with a lower standard deviation (a key measure of risk). By comparison, dividend cutters and eliminators underperformed quite substantially, with annualised returns of -0.79% and a higher level of risk.Source: Santa Barbara Asset Management and Ned Davis ResearchWhat this suggests is that if your goal is high total returns, and not simply a high yield today (i.e. you’re investing for the long term), the best strategy when investing in dividend stocks is to focus on companies that are consistently increasing their payouts.Focus on dividend growthThis theory is well supported by looking at the performance of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats (S&P 500 companies that have increased their dividend payouts for at least 25 consecutive years) over the last decade.According to the latest factsheet, for the 10-year period ending 31 December 2019, the Dividend Aristocrats generated total returns of 14.75% per year versus 13.56% for the S&P 500 index. Impressively, they generated this outperformance with a lower standard deviation than the index.In conclusion, research suggests that dividend stocks are good long-term investments. However, if your goal is to generate high total returns, it could be a smart idea to focus on companies that consistently increase their dividend payouts as these companies tend to generate the strongest risk-adjusted returns over time. There are plenty of those in the FTSE 100 here in the UK. “This Stock Could Be Like Buying Amazon in 1997” Our 6 ‘Best Buys Now’ Shares Click here to claim your copy now — and we’ll tell you the name of this Top US Share… free of charge! Image source: Getty Images I would like to receive emails from you about product information and offers from The Fool and its business partners. Each of these emails will provide a link to unsubscribe from future emails. More information about how The Fool collects, stores, and handles personal data is available in its Privacy Statement. Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this. Are dividend stocks a good investment? Enter Your Email Address Edward Sheldon owns shares in Royal Dutch Shell. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s quite the statement from Motley Fool Co-Founder Tom Gardner.But since our US analyst team first recommended shares in this unique tech stock back in 2016, the value has soared.What’s more, we firmly believe there’s still plenty of upside in its future. In fact, even throughout the current coronavirus crisis, its performance has been beating Wall St expectations.And right now, we’re giving you a chance to discover exactly what has got our analysts all fired up about this niche industry phenomenon, in our FREE special report, A Top US Share From The Motley Fool.