Over the past few weeks, stocks across the board have had a hot run. But, as fears of a Second Wave begin to outweigh the V-shaped recovery thesis, it’s debatable whether indices such as the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) will continue climbing to past highs.
But don’t let this uncertainty scare you off. There are other ways to find safe returns in today’s market, especially for income investors. Granted, with the Federal Reserve slashing interest rates, it’s tough to find yield. However, plenty of high-quality dividend stocks are still paying mouth-watering yields. That is to say, dividend yields above 5% per year.
On the other hand, these high-yielding stocks are not without risk. Sure, many of them are high quality, stable companies. But we’ve yet to see the full damage from the pandemic. As this commentator recently noted, even the most venerable companies may not be immune to dividend cuts and freezes.
However, we currently live in a low-interest rate world. Fixed-income investments like CDs, money market accounts, and even bonds don’t cut it much anymore. Dividend stocks are a necessity for any investor with income generation as their top priority.
So which high-yielding dividend stocks should you consider? Taking a look at large cap names, these five come to mind:
- Altria Group (NYSE:MO)
- AT&T (NYSE:T)
- ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM)
- IBM (NYSE:IBM)
- PPL Corporation (NYSE:PPL)
With dividend yields of 5% and above, these should be on any income investor’s shortlist. Also, with many of them still lower than where they traded pre-pandemic, there could be further upside potential as well.
Dividend Stocks: Altria Group (MO)
As I discussed in my May article about “sin stocks,” this is a name with high controversy, but high returns to match. Altria is the parent of tobacco giant Phillip Morris USA, producers of America’s top cigarette brand, Marlboro.
For most of the 2010s, MO stock produced strong returns for investors. But setbacks including the controversy related to its investment in vaping giant Juul have taken some wind of out of the stock in recent years. The pandemic has only further hurt the stock’s poor price performance over the past few years.
That being said, the company hasn’t fallen short when it comes to dividends. As a result, this dividend stock is one of the highest-yielding blue chips out there, with a 8.26% forward dividend yield.
Tempted? Of course, there’s good reason why this stock sports a higher yield than other types of blue-chip consumer products companies. As U.S. smoking rates continue to decline, future earnings may not be as strong as they are today. But for now, as a cash cow with a recession-resistant operating business, expect its strong dividend payouts to continue.
With this in mind, this remains a high-yield dividend stock to keep top of mind for any income investor’s portfolio.
The telecom and media giant remains a popular name to own among income investors. T stock has a forward dividend yield of 6.86%, above and beyond the yield of rivals like Verizon (NYSE:VZ). Again, as with Altria, there’s good reason why this stock sports such a high yield.
As I wrote earlier this month, there are some risks with AT&T shares. Namely, the company’s high debt levels. There’s also the company’s mixed success going toe-to-toe with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and other streaming giants via their HBO Max service.
Considering these factors, it makes sense Wall Street has priced in the risk of a dividend cut. But as some commentators have recently noted, fears of a T stock dividend cut seem overblown. To paraphrase, it’s the health of their operating business, not their outstanding debt levels, that will determine whether the current dividend payouts continue.
And so despite the HBO Max hiccup, overall AT&T remains a strong cash-flow generator. And don’t forget the 5G catalyst. As InvestorPlace’s Laura Hoy noted back in May, the rollout of 5G mobile technology could help move the needle for T stock.
Offering both a high yield, as well as some share price upside potential, AT&T remains a solid buy for dividend investors.
Exxon Mobil (XOM)
The ubiquitous oil and gas giant hasn’t been immune to the recent headwinds in the energy industry. But even with oil prices far below prior price levels, XOM stock continues to pay a very generous dividend yield.
Currently sporting a 7.57% dividend yield, this is yet another venerable name where fears of a dividend cut have scared off some investors. But is Exxon’s high yield under threat, even as oil slowly climbs back to the $40 per barrel price level?
That remains up for debate. Granted, the company recently froze its dividend for the first time in 13 years. Also, as I wrote back in May, that dividend freeze could just be the start of potentially lackluster returns for the company. With a payout level well above its current cash flow levels, it’ll take a continued epic rebound in energy prices before investors feel more secure about the dividend.
Nevertheless, this may have been too bearish of an assessment. Wall Street has more than priced in the dividend-cut risk. If “second wave” virus fears evaporate and a V-shaped recovery remains in motion, oil stands a strong shot at retracing its prior price levels. And in that scenario, ExxonMobil can return to profitability.
If this happens, shares should climb higher as investors realize the dividend is safe and here to stay. XOM remains one of the riskier dividend stocks out there. But in terms of risk/return, wider circumstances may be in your favor.
It’s been many decades since “Big Blue” was king of the hill in big tech. But that’s not to say that IBM is a dinosaur. Sure, it’s not as “cool” as FAANG stocks like Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG GOOGL) or Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Or other “tech blue chips” such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), for that matter.
But in terms of a high dividend yield, as well as some upside potential, buying IBM stock today has its merits. Currently, shares have a forward yield of 5.32%. Granted, the company’s top and bottom lines haven’t set the world on fire for quite some time.
That doesn’t mean a dividend cut is in the cards anytime soon, however. With a moderate payout ratio of 58.8%, and 21 years of consecutive dividend growth, this may be a more stable income play than the other dividend stocks listed in this article.
Furthermore, the company has several catalysts in motion. These potential needle-movers could help propel the stock back to prior price levels (above $140 per share) and beyond.
As our own Josh Enomoto wrote June 19, there’s plenty to be excited about with this “boring stock.” “Big Blue” remains a contender in the fast-growing cloud computing and artificial intelligence spaces. Add in their continued ability to make smart bolt-on acquisitions (such as their recent purchase of cybersecurity company Spanugo), and its crystal-clear IBM is no dinosaur.
PPL Corporation (PPL)
Unlike the four names listed above, PPL is a much lesser known company. But the company, which provides electricity to customers in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and the United Kingdom, is one of the highest-yielding utility stocks out there, with a forward yield of 6.38%.
So what’s the disconnect? As this analyst recently noted, their U.K. business (the company’s largest unit) could be affected by new regulations. Yet other analysts remain bullish on the stock. UBS’s Daniel Ford recently reiterated his “buy” rating on PPL stock, giving shares a price target of $37 per share (the stock currently trades for $26 per share).
A Barron’s article from May also cited PPL as one of many “deeply discounted dividend stocks,” with a secure dividend and a low valuation. With this in mind, consider this overlooked utility name a screaming buy, hidden in plain sight.
Thomas Niel, contributor to InvestorPlace, has written single-stock analysis since 2016. As of this writing, Thomas Niel did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.