If you’re in need of income, it’s hard to find it from fixed income these days.
So we turn to equities, in particular stocks that generate decent dividends as well as showing dividend growth over the last few years.
The first place we looked was the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Fund ETF (symbol: VIG), which holds mostly blue-chip stocks with dividend yields currently between 2 percent and 4.5 percent.
The top 10 holdings: Microsoft, Visa, Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Comcast, McDonald’s, Abbott Laboratories, Medtronic, and Union Pacific.
Interestingly, the Vanguard fund doesn’t hold any energy stocks, some of which are yielding dividends upward of 5 percent: BP’s current yield is 6.2 percent, Royal Dutch 5 percent, Exxon Mobil 4.6 percent, Duke Energy 4.2 percent, Schlumberger 5.1 percent, Sunoco over 9 percent, and Dominion Energy 4.7 percent.
Be aware, however, of public energy companies that trade in master limited partnership form, since you may pay a higher tax rate on a partnership than on a straight stock dividend, which (generally) totals less than 20 percent. Check with your financial planner or broker before purchase.
Timber companies Weyerhauser and CatchMark Timber Trust also yield single-digit dividends, as do many banks and real estate investment trusts, such as Brandywine Realty Trust.
Of course, dividends are only one sign of a company’s financial health. Carnival Corp. saw its stock drop this year after Brexit hurt its overall earnings. Also, American tourist ships will be barred from going to Cuba under new White House policy, making Carnival and other cruise lines vulnerable.
That said, Carnival’s current dividend is 4.5 percent, and the dividend has grown an average of 9 percent a year over the last five years, according to Bloomberg.
In times of market uncertainty, dividend stocks allow investors to earn some rent from their portfolios.
Another interesting place to investigate companies with dividend growth: The NASDAQ US Dividend Achievers Select Index, composed of securities with at least 10 consecutive years of increasing annual regular dividend payments. More information is available at bit.ly/nasdaqinq.
There’s a Vanguard exchange-traded fund that tracks this NASDAQ index: Vanguard U.S. Dividend Appreciation Index ETF.
Also, you can set up your own dividend stock screen on most any online brokerage account. In times of turmoil, it’s nice to have some stable income.
Malvern-based Vanguard settled a sexual harassment lawsuit brought in December by an IT manager at the mutual fund giant, according to Ignites.com, which describes itself as “the preeminent source for mutual fund news.”
Terms of the settlement agreement, announced in a July 9 court filing, were not disclosed.
Deborah Blair, a production services line manager, filed a complaint in 2018 alleging that starting in 2013, male colleagues made inappropriate comments about her appearance and subjected her to “wolf whistles and catcalls.”
Blair said she reported the harassment, which included comments by male colleagues comparing her to a specific adult film actress, to human resources, her lawsuit alleged.
Blair took leave from work in early 2018 under the Family and Medical Leave Act, citing health issues from the harassment such as depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure. After returning three months later, Blair was demoted and her job was given to another employee, according to her complaint.
The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with Vanguard represented by Morgan Lewis, and Blair represented by Egan McCarthy Law Firm in Exton.
Blair sought $150,000 in damages as well as punitive damages.