#9: General Electric
Current Dividend Yield: 3.5%
Performance So Far in 2012: +10%
General Electric (NYSE:GE) might forever be tarnished in the minds of some dividend investors after slashing its payout by two-thirds during the financial crisis. While the quarterly dividend remains about half of what it was — at just 17 cents vs. 31 before the market meltdown — the recent history is worth noting.
Consider that in April 2011, GE paid 14 cents each quarter. By the summer it was paying 15 cents, and by January 2012 it was up to 17 cents a quarter. Now we just received news that General Electric’s finance arm received the green light to share some of its wealth with shareholders, too. Specifically, regulators signed off on a special dividend from GE Capital along with permission for the group to resume paying regular dividends later this year.
GE admittedly has its troubles. We saw rather lackluster General Electric earnings in February, but a stronger showing in April as GE reported its fiscal first-quarter earnings. With 40% of its revenue coming from GE Aviation, it’s hard for the company to break out without big airplane orders or defense contracts.
But dividend investors should be encouraged by the GE Capital dividend news. With a current 3.5% yield, this stock is steadily climbing back into the ranks of Wall Street’s best income stocks. A nice market-beating gain since Jan. 1 also is a plus.