The stock market’s recent drop — and the Federal Reserve’s resulting interest rate cut — combined to make some current dividend yields look even more attractive.
Given the selloff, some stocks now boast higher dividends on a percentage basis, so we did a quick screen to look at companies’ shares paying you “rent” while you own the underlying stock.
In no particular order, here are some public companies that have dropped in price. We screened for stocks that now generate at least a 3% dividend yield, well above current U.S. short-term interest rates. The Fed in a surprise move last week cut rates to a range of 1.00%--1.25%.
Altria, trading at around $43 a share, now has a dividend of over 7%. The stock price was already under pressure on news that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Altria disclosed risks when it spent $12.8 billion in 2018 to take a stake in e-cigarette maker Juul.
Verizon, AT&T, AbbVie, and CVS also boast healthy dividend yields. AT&T’s yield is 5.7%, and has a history of raising dividends, another sign to look for.
We also screened for dividends in another way: S&P 500 companies with hefty market-caps of at least $50 billion, also having current dividend yields of at least 3%. That list includes Wells Fargo, IBM, Broadcom, PNC Financial, Cisco, and ConocoPhillips. IBM chose a new CEO in late January who was the company’s leader in the fast-growing area of cloud computing. The move could raise the stock if results improve.
How about drugmakers and automakers? Count Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer among those with 4% and 2.9% dividends respectively, Ford Motor and General Motors with dividends of 8% and 5% respectively.
If you’re not afraid of investing in the volatile energy sector — which has suffered amid a tremendous drop in oil and gas prices — these companies may offer income as a trade-off while you’re waiting for a rebound: ExxonMobil, Chevron, Schlumberger, RoyalDutch Shell, Baker Hughes, Marathon, and several others.
A reminder: These aforementioned energy companies aren’t master limited partnerships, which are taxed differently. These are exchange-listed corporations issuing common share dividends, which are taxed at the long-term capital gains/qualified dividends rate of 15%.
Rajeev Vaidya, who teaches investing at the University of Delaware, sent us some exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, that also generate dividends.
“Changing your portfolio allocation to get more equity exposure and earn dividends is also taking on more risk," he said. “In a retirement portfolio, managing risk is important just like producing income.”
Historically, investors turned to bonds for income. But just look at the interest rate on the 10-year Treasury, which is now under 1.0% for the first time ever. Back in 1981, the 10-year yielded almost 16%.
So how do you get dividend income while limiting risk? If you are a passive investor looking for dividend-focused funds, how do you choose funds to meet these objectives?
“Funds with the highest dividend yields often have stocks that are undervalued for some reason, and are not strong companies with growing cash flows and dividends," he noted. "Funds that use dividend appreciation as a strategy invest in strong companies that have a long track record of annual dividend increases.”
Here are three he recommends researching (not buying, at least not until you do your homework).
In the last major downturn in 2008, Vanguard Dividend Appreciation (VIG) dropped 6.5% less than the S&P 500. However, during torrid upswings in the market, these funds may rise less than the benchmark.
Also take a look at Vanguard’s S&P 500 ETF (VOO) and Vanguard Dividend Growth (VDIGX). “These funds do not give you the highest dividend yield. They give you equity exposure to earn dividend income with less risk,” he added.
We’re currently in the midst of an uncertain interest rate regime, Vaidya continued.
“When rates are low, if you are borrowing money, you want to lock in the low rate for as long as possible. On the other hand, if you are the lender, you want to lend for as short a term as possible because later, you may get a chance to lend at a higher rate. So in a low-interest-rate environment, it is good to borrow over the long term and lend over the short term. When you buy a bond, you are lending money to the institution issuing it."
If you want to add short-term bonds to your portfolio, are there any bond funds to research?
He recommends PIMCO’s Enhanced Short Maturity Active ETF (MINT) which has an expense ratio of 0.36% and the PIMCO Short Asset Investment Fund (PAIDX) for institutional investors. The Class A shares charge a 0.73% expense ratio.
For full disclosure, Vaidya holds PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active in his investment portfolio. Vaidya, a retired senior executive from a Fortune 100 company, was founding president of the Delaware chapter of the National Association of Investment Clubs and is now on the board of the Philadelphia chapter of Better Investing. He also leads programs in Delaware for the American Association of Individual Investors and recently started “Inve$t-Ed,” an investment education newsletter.
The group’s next investor education event takes place March 31. Jeffrey Hirsch, editor-in-chief of Stock Trader’s Almanac, will discuss how an election year stock market performs when a sitting president runs for reelection. Hirsch will share his top investment ideas from his tactical seasonal sector rotation and stock trading strategies.