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In today's volatile market, with poor results coming out of Europe, a second downgrade of Spain by S&P this year, and on the face of it, weak GDP numbers, it pays to diversify your portfolio into more stable dividend stocks. The payout ratio is a popular metric used to quickly analyze a dividend and a payout ratio generally below 60% means that the company can support the dividend and a lower ratio means that it can be increased in the future. The group below currently have payout ratios which are sustainable at or under 50%. In addition to this, other metrics of dividend history and strength have been included. By keeping an eye on stocks that have been upgraded, this provides the opportunity to pick up on investing ideas of strong dividend-payers which are long-term plays. The price targets have been included to show their upside potential according to the most recent upgrades.

Integrated energy company Suncor Energy (NYSE:SU) was upgraded by BMO Capital Markets on Monday, 23rd April from a "Market Perform" rating to an "Outperform" rating with a revised price target of $39 from $38. At the Friday's close price of $32.27, the price target represents potential upside of 20.86%.

SU has a dividend yield of 1.36%, a low payout ratio of 15.69% indicating the company has the ability to raise its dividend in the future and has been paying dividends for 17 years. The 5-year dividend growth rate is in the double digits of 23.45%.

Integrated technology solutions provider Diebold Incorporated (NYSE:DBD) was upgraded by Compass Point on Tuesday, 24th April from a "Neutral" rating to a "Buy" rating with a revised price target of $45 from $40. At Friday's close price of $40.59, the price target represents potential upside of 10.86%.

DBD has a dividend yield of 2.81%, a sustainable payout ratio of 50% and has been paying a dividend for 30 years. The 5-year dividend growth rate is in the single digits of 5.43%.

High technology products and services provider United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) was upgraded by Argus on Wednesday, 25th April from a "Hold" rating to a "Buy" rating with a price target of $96. At the most recent close price of $82.00, the price target represents potential upside of 17.07%.

UTX has a dividend yield of 2.34%, a low payout ratio of 33.97% and has been paying a dividend for 42 years; the longest from this list of dividend-payers. The 5-year dividend growth rate is at 12.94%

Source: 3 Dividend Stocks Upgraded Last Week With Upside Potential