Top Dividend Stock #9: Merck (MRK)
Dividend Yield: 3.22%
YTD Performance: +9.21%
52-Week Return: +23.97%
While some of the dividend stocks on our list have been flat or worse over the first three months of the year, Merck (MRK), the global provider of health care products and services, has seen its shares increase by almost 10%. Even with the relatively big run up in the stock price, Merck still sports a decent 3.22% dividend yield.
MRK missed EPS estimates in its last earnings report, but the Street seemed to be more focused on its promising new drug pipeline and continued to push the stock higher. Investors were also excited to hear that Merck will be making an effort to make its business more efficient by selling off its consumer brands division, which some analysts believe could bring in as much as $11 billion.
MRK is currently developing a new cancer drug, as well as many others for a number of different applications, and any positive developments in clinical trials could send the stock higher in the near term. For the long-term investor, MRK stock trades at a moderate forward P/E ratio of 14.6 compared to the S&P average of 16, and you can count on increased distributions from the big-pharma giant as it streamlines its business further.