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When considering dividend stocks, it is very important to keep in mind company profitability. After all, if you want to be able to rely on a stock's dividend, the company's profits should be equally reliable.

We ran a screen on dividend stocks of the S&P 500 for those seeing consistently declining gross profitability over the past four years (measured by gross margin, or the percentage of profits taken from sales after deducting cost of goods sold).

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.‬

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.

Do you think these stocks continue to pay reliable dividends, or are they running into trouble? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

List sorted by dividend yield.

1. ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP): Operates as an integrated energy company worldwide. Market cap of $96.85B. Dividend yield at 3.62%, payout ratio at 32.21%. Gross profit margins decreased from 19.22% to 18.2% during the first time interval (12 months ending 2008-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2007-12-31). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 18.2% to 15.25% (12 months ending 2009-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2008-12-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 15.25% to 14.78% (12 months ending 2010-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2009-12-31). The stock has gained 12.74% over the last year.

2. Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC): Provides advertising, marketing, and corporate communications services. Market cap of $12.21B. Dividend yield at 2.26%, payout ratio at 29.02%. Gross profit margins decreased from 29.04% to 28.44% during the first time interval (12 months ending 2008-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2007-12-31). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 28.44% to 27.9% (12 months ending 2009-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2008-12-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 27.9% to 26.54% (12 months ending 2010-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2009-12-31). The stock has lost 3.66% over the last year.

3. Total System Services, Inc. (NYSE:TSS): Provides electronic payment processing and other services to card-issuing and merchant acquiring institutions. Market cap of $3.93B. Dividend yield at 2.05%, payout ratio at 26.08%. Gross profit margins decreased from 32.81% to 32% during the first time interval (12 months ending 2008-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2007-12-31). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 32% to 31.45% (12 months ending 2009-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2008-12-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 31.45% to 30.08% (12 months ending 2010-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2009-12-31). The stock has gained 24.43% over the last year.

4. Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO): Operates as an international energy company with operations in the United States, Canada, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Market cap of $21.56B. Dividend yield at 1.96%, payout ratio at 34.31%. Gross profit margins decreased from 14.58% to 14.49% during the first time interval (12 months ending 2008-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2007-12-31). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 14.49% to 13.9% (12 months ending 2009-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2008-12-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 13.9% to 13.25% (12 months ending 2010-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2009-12-31). The stock has gained 33.45% over the last year.

5. Dun & Bradstreet Corp. (NYSE:DNB): Provides commercial information and insight on businesses worldwide. Market cap of $3.72B. Dividend yield at 1.88%, payout ratio at 27.28%. Gross profit margins decreased from 73.09% to 72.15% during the first time interval (12 months ending 2008-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2007-12-31). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 72.15% to 70.34% (12 months ending 2009-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2008-12-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 70.34% to 66.74% (12 months ending 2010-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2009-12-31). The stock has lost 5.77% over the last year.

6. Patterson Companies Inc. (NASDAQ:PDCO): Operates as a distributor serving the dental, companion-pet veterinarian, and rehabilitation supply markets in North America. Market cap of $3.28B. Dividend yield at 1.62%, payout ratio at 25.19%. Gross profit margins decreased from 34.41% to 33.72% during the first time interval (52 weeks ending 2009-04-25 vs. 52 weeks ending 2008-04-26). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 33.72% to 33.65% (52 weeks ending 2010-04-24 vs. 52 weeks ending 2009-04-25). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 33.65% to 33.5% (52 weeks ending 2011-04-30 vs. 52 weeks ending 2010-04-24). The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 6.72% (equivalent to 6.34 days of average volume). The stock has lost 3.3% over the last year.

7. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF): Operates as a specialty retailer of casual apparel for men, women, and kids. Market cap of $3.92B. Dividend yield at 1.53%, payout ratio at 30.62%. Gross profit margins decreased from 67.25% to 66.91% during the first time interval (52 weeks ending 2009-01-31 vs. 52 weeks ending 2008-02-02). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 66.91% to 64.32% (52 weeks ending 2010-01-30 vs. 52 weeks ending 2009-01-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 64.32% to 63.77% (52 weeks ending 2011-01-29 vs. 52 weeks ending 2010-01-30). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 6.57% over the last week.

8. Allegheny Technologies Inc. (NYSE:ATI): Produces and sells specialty metals worldwide. Market cap of $5.13B. Dividend yield at 1.49%, payout ratio at 37.18%. Gross profit margins decreased from 26.58% to 21.69% during the first time interval (12 months ending 2008-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2007-12-31). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 21.69% to 13.37% (12 months ending 2009-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2008-12-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 13.37% to 12.11% (12 months ending 2010-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2009-12-31). The stock has lost 11.36% over the last year.

9. Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK): Engages in the acquisition, development, exploration, and production of natural gas and oil properties in the United States. Market cap of $15.53B. Dividend yield at 1.49%, payout ratio at 16.17%. Gross profit margins decreased from 62.58% to 58.54% during the first time interval (12 months ending 2008-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2007-12-31). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 58.54% to 54.8% (12 months ending 2009-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2008-12-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 54.8% to 50.78% (12 months ending 2010-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2009-12-31). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.7% over the last week.

10. Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB): Supplies technology, integrated project management, and information solutions to the oil and gas exploration and production industries worldwide. Market cap of $92.37B. Dividend yield at 1.45%, payout ratio at 29.52%. Gross profit margins decreased from 32.88% to 29.76% during the first time interval (12 months ending 2008-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2007-12-31). For the second time interval, gross margins decreased from 29.76% to 23.75% (12 months ending 2009-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2008-12-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins decreased from 23.75% to 20.56% (12 months ending 2010-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2009-12-31). The stock has lost 14.55% over the last year.

*Accounting data sourced from Google Finance, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 10 S&P 500 Dividend Stocks With Falling Gross Profitability