The S&P 500 is currently offering a dividend yield of only 1.6%, which is insufficient for many income investors, especially those near retirement. As a result, income investors can try to identify high-dividend stocks.
Nevertheless, investors should perform their due diligence to ensure that the dividends of these stocks have a meaningful margin of safety. We will discuss the prospects of three high-yield stocks that look attractive for income investors right now.
Oneok (NYSE:OKE) engages in the gathering and processing of natural gas. It provides services in the business of natural gas liquids (NGLs) and owns natural gas pipelines, both interstate and intrastate.
The company has a 40,000-mile network of NGLs and natural gas pipelines and provides midstream services to producers, processors and customers. Its assets are ideally positioned in the major shale basins, Permian and Bakken. More than 10% of the total U.S. natural gas production is transferred through the network of Oneok.
Most energy stocks are highly cyclical due to the boom-and-bust cycles of the oil and gas industry. Oneok has exhibited a volatile performance record. However, it has greatly improved its performance in the last five years. This is thanks to the completion of a series of growth projects, such as pipelines and fractionation services in the Permian Basin and the material contribution of these projects to the cash flows of the company.
It is also worth noting that a significant portion of the cash flows of Oneok are fee-based or hedged. This means that Oneok is more defensive during downturns than most energy companies. This resilience was evident during the downturn caused by the collapse of oil and gas prices between mid-2014 and 2016. Despite the collapse of commodity prices, the company kept raising its dividend throughout that downturn.
Due to the effect of the coronavirus crisis on its business, the company paid the same dividend for 12 consecutive quarters, from the first quarter of 2020 until the fourth quarter of 2022. It broke its dividend growth streak but defended its dividend. This stands in contrast to many other energy companies, which cut their dividend due to the pandemic.
Oneok has raised its dividend by 2% this year and is currently offering a 5.5% forward dividend yield. The payout ratio of the company spiked to 88% in 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic on its cash flows. However, the payout ratio has reverted to 68%, as Oneok is expected to report all-time-high distributable cash flow per share for 2022 thanks to the favorable commodity prices and the recovery of U.S. gas production.
Newell Brands (NWL)
Newell Brands (NASDAQ:NWL) traces its roots back to 1903 when Edgar Newell purchased a struggling curtain rod manufacturer. Since then, Newell Brands has transformed itself into a consumer brands powerhouse with large acquisitions. Some examples include its merger with Jarden as well as its acquisition of Sistema. The primary competitive advantage of Newell is its position in several niche markets. These markets are small but necessary, and hence profitable.
Newell Brands is currently facing an exceptionally adverse business landscape. Due to the surge of inflation to a nearly 40-year high, its costs have greatly increased. Therefore, its operating margins have shrunk considerably. Excessive inflation has also reduced the real purchasing power of consumers, and thus the company experiences lower demand for its products.
In addition, many of the customers of Newell Brands are in the process of reducing their inventories to preserve funds. Furthermore, the sales and earnings of the company are hurt by a strong dollar. Due to all these headwinds, Newell Brands has guided for earnings per share (EPS) of $1.56-$1.61 in 2022. At the mid-point, this guidance implies a 13% decrease over the prior year.
Newell Brands has divested many non-core assets in recent years, meaning its revenues and EPS have stagnated in the last four years. On the bright side, the company has nearly completed its asset divestments, and management set a goal to achieve operating margins over 15%, though patience will probably be required on this front.
It is also worth noting that Newell Brands has paid the same dividend for five consecutive years. Given the aforementioned headwinds and the recent increase of the leverage ratio (net debt to EBITDA) from 3.1 to 3.9, investors should not expect a dividend raise anytime soon. On the other hand, thanks to a reasonable payout ratio of 58%, the dividend has a wide margin of safety. As a result, the nearly 10-year-high dividend yield of 5.8% of Newell Brands is safe for the foreseeable future.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (CBRL)
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (NASDAQ:CBRL) was founded in 1969 as a restaurant concept that embraces America’s heritage. It sells homestyle food at modest prices and differentiates itself from competitors within the casual dining industry thanks to its unique menu offerings. For instance, some of Cracker Barrel’s most popular menu items are its meatloaf and signature biscuits. The company also operates a gift shop.
The restaurant industry is highly competitive with low barriers to entry. However, Cracker Barrel has a strong brand thanks to its differentiated menu and popularity within its niche category. In addition, Cracker Barrel has proved fairly resilient to recessions thanks to its affordable menu offerings. During rough economic periods, consumers tend to shift from high-priced restaurants to value-oriented restaurants. This helps explain the resilient performance of Cracker Barrel during the Great Recession.
On the other hand, due to the unprecedented lockdowns imposed during the pandemic, Cracker Barrel was severely hurt. To be sure, the company incurred a 77% plunge in its EPS, from $9.03 in 2019 to $2.04 in 2020. Even worse, while most restaurant chains have recovered from the pandemic, Cracker Barrel is still far from achieving its pre-pandemic earnings. In fiscal 2022, Cracker Barrel grew its EPS 18%. But its bottom line is still 33% lower than its pre-pandemic level.
Cracker Barrel is also facing another secular headwind: the decline of U.S. malls and the emergence of other eating options, such as meal kits. These developments have hurt sit-down restaurants. Nevertheless, as Cracker Barrel is still far from its pre-pandemic performance, the company has ample room to grow its EPS in the upcoming years.
Moreover, Cracker Barrel is offering an exceptionally high dividend yield of 4.7%. Its payout ratio is high at 89%. However, it is unlikely to cut its dividend thanks to its strong balance sheet and the expected recovery of its business.
On the date of publication, Bob Ciura did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.