These 15 Stocks Are the Most Generous Dividend-Payers in the Market

Dividend stocks have gotten incredibly popular among investors as the search for income has led many to take on more risk in their portfolios in order to generate the cash flow they need from their investments. With the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) once again at new highs, another draw of dividend stocks is that historically, they've tended to perform better than the overall market during pullbacks, making more conservative investors feel more comfortable with dividend payers.

But some companies are more generous with dividends than others. Let's take a look at the 15 blue-chip companies that have paid more than $5 billion in dividends to their shareholders over the past 12 months, according to the latest figures from S&P Capital IQ.

Rank

Company Name

Amount Paid in Dividends

1

ExxonMobil

$10.43 billion

2

AT&T

$10.14 billion

3

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  )

$7.47 billion*

4

General Electric

$7.37 billion

5

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  )

$7.21 billion

6

Chevron

$6.99 billion

7

Johnson & Johnson

$6.76 billion

8

Pfizer

$6.62 billion

9

Procter & Gamble

$6.42 billion

10

Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  )

$5.60 billion

11

Wal-Mart

$5.56 billion

12

Philip Morris International

$5.48 billion

13

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  )

$5.41 billion

14

Verizon

$5.41 billion

15

Merck

$5.14 billion

 Source: S&P Capital IQ. *Reflects three quarters of dividend payments.

As you can see from the table, energy and telecom stocks continue to dominate the list, with the extensive cash flow that those businesses generate outweighing any concerns about future growth in their respective industries. Perhaps the most impressive thing about companies like ExxonMobil and AT&T is that in addition to those dividends, they also maintain massive multibillion-dollar share buybacks as well.

Increasingly, though, we've seen technology stocks start to become dividend payers. Historically, most tech giants have grown fast enough to justify plowing spare cash into internal growth initiatives. But more recently, mature tech companies have had more money than they know what to do with. For instance, Apple started paying a dividend last August, caving to pressure from activist investors arguing that the company's nine-figure cash hoard was a waste of shareholder capital. When S&P Capital IQ includes Apple's latest augmented dividend payment, it should vault the company into the No. 2 spot. Meanwhile, Microsoft has paid dividends longer than Apple, but it too has lifted its payout substantially in recent years to reflect the substantial income that its stalwart Office and Windows software packages produce.

The other area where dividends are making a comeback is in financial stocks. Both Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase made dramatic dividend cuts during the financial crisis after receiving TARP bailouts, but since then, the companies have both bolstered their respective financial conditions. JPMorgan's latest payout equals its dividend rate from before the 2009 cut, while Wells now pays six times what it did at the height of the crisis. So long as favorable trends in the banking industry last, the return of financial stocks to healthy dividend status will be a welcome turnaround for investors.

Don't miss out on dividends
These blue-chip examples show how easy it is to get dividend income from your portfolio with promising stocks. With these companies returning billions of dollars to shareholders every year, there's no reason why you should miss out on the opportunity they present now.

But are these 15 stocks really the best dividend stocks available, or are there even better prospects out there? If you're on the lookout for high-yielding stocks, The Motley Fool has compiled a special free report outlining our nine top dependable dividend-paying stocks. It's called "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks." You can access your copy today at no cost! Just click here.


Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (12)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2013, at 7:51 PM, gistanleyjr wrote:

    All of these are losers. Try: Ecopetrol EC; Eni E; CHKR at 17%; EMES at 14%; BBL; BTI; ETE; EPD; KMP; KMI; WPZ; OHI; PDL; TAL; TOO; TNH. Do UR homework and don't listen to this drivel. Unbelievable what I read. George BS, MS, MBA investing in my accounts since 1985

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2013, at 10:58 AM, JimandAlfie wrote:

    This would be a LOT more useful if it showed the annual dividend yield/share (%) for these stocks, or maybe show a different table with a list of the 15 stocks with the highest annual dividend yield/share (%). (Maybe limit it to large-cap stocks or find some other way to limit it to larger, well-known stocks).

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2013, at 2:24 PM, DCUDFlyer wrote:

    How does total $ amount of dividends paid inform the investor/reader? Agree with the comment above, presented with any context (yield, payout ratio, % increase) would be helpful. Right now, the article just looks lazy.

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2013, at 4:24 PM, chopchop0 wrote:

    JNJ and WMT are losers?

  • Report this Comment On July 16, 2013, at 1:43 PM, agc7811 wrote:

    I have to wonder why some of these had their Ticker Symbol and other didn't? Could this have been a paid for advertisement?

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