#9: General Electric
Current Dividend Yield: 3.2%
Performance So Far in 2012: +20%
General Electric (NYSE:GE) is on par with Chevron (NYSE:CVX) when it comes to market cap and revenue, and has almost the exact same dividend yield. GE also is in the energy biz with its nuclear and wind turbine operations, but General Electric is so much more.
This diversified conglomerate gets almost half of its revenue from overseas, giving it a global flavor without the risk of an emerging-market small-cap. Its medical technology, such as imaging machines, also provides a stable and downturn-resistant revenue stream. On the growth side, GE has seen significant improvement domestically in its financial arm that caused so many headaches (and a much-maligned dividend cut) during the Great Recession. And of course its cyclical operations like infrastructure or aviation allow it to tap into a recovery if and when business spending picks up.
Like Chevron, this is a good company to sit back and wait for growth because of stability and a nice dividend. You still might hold a grudge against GE because of its infamous dividend cut during the financial crisis. But 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. And earlier this year, regulators signed off on a special dividend from GE Capital along with permission for the group to resume paying regular dividends going forward.
Payouts aren’t back to pre-recession levels, but this progress is significant.