These 11 Stocks Spend the Most on Dividends

Investors want dividend stocks for their solid income, dependable returns, and relative stability in the face of an increasingly shaky stock market. With the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) near record highs, the fact that dividend stocks can provide some ballast against overall market declines looks more attractive than ever.

But looking at raw dividend yield can mislead you into buying stocks that aren't as stable as you might think. As a better alternative, let's instead look at the 11 stalwart blue-chip companies that paid more than $5 billion in dividends to shareholders during 2012, according to figures from S&P Capital IQ.

Rank

Company Name

Amount Paid in Dividends

1

AT&T (NYSE: T  )

$10.24 billion

2

ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  )

$10.09 billion

3

General Electric (NYSE: GE  )

$7.19 billion

4

Microsoft 

$6.97 billion

5

Chevron (NYSE: CVX  )

$6.84 billion

6

Johnson & Johnson 

$6.61 billion

7

Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  )

$5.88 billion

8

Philip Morris International 

$5.40 billion

9

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  )

$5.36 billion

10

Verizon (NYSE: VZ  )

$5.23 billion

11

Merck (NYSE: MRK  )

$5.12 billion

Source: S&P Capital IQ.

Looking at these 11 stocks, you can see some general trends. Certain industries are better represented than others, as their business models lend themselves more to generous dividend payouts than those of other companies. Perhaps the most obvious example is the telecom industry, in which both AT&T and Verizon have spent massive amounts of capital building out their respective wireless networks. Yet despite having to service extremely high levels of debt to repay what they borrowed to build those networks, dependable monthly income from millions of subscribers provides more than enough cash flow both to pay interest and principal on their debt and to return capital to shareholders. As long as their services remain in demand, Verizon and AT&T should remain near the top of this list.

Energy stocks ExxonMobil and Chevron also appear near the top of the list, and although the energy industry involves much different operational aspects from telecom, oil and gas companies have some of the same business-model characteristics. Finding reserves and drilling wells require substantial upfront capital investment, but once production begins, the profits are substantial enough to more than make up for the carrying cost of those upfront capital expenditures. Even with natural gas prices being far from ideal from a profitability standpoint, great conditions in the refining business have helped these integrated oil giants produce even more free cash flow to return to shareholders.

Get your share of dividends
If you want income from your investments today, dividend-paying stocks are your best bet. These stocks pay billions to their investors, and they're among the most solid prospects in the market. That's a powerful combination that you should consider closely for your portfolio.

If you're looking for some more long-term investing ideas with great dividends, you're invited to check out The Motley Fool's brand-new special report, "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." It's absolutely free, so simply click here now and get your copy today.


Read/Post Comments (17) | Recommend This Article (54)

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 April 09, 2013, at 6:33 PM, beachinvest wrote:

    Without a comparison to free cash flow, gross dividends paid can be as misleading as yield.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 6:39 PM, MattHylland wrote:

    How is total amount of dividends paid helpful at all to the investor? Look at payout ratio, cash flow, revenues, anything.....but this alone tells you nothing.

    This gets featured on fool? Guess I should have been a financial writer!

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 7:41 PM, sharpx2 wrote:

    I second both of the comments above. This meaningless article mostly seems to be trolling for click-throughs to one of the Fool's paid services. By wasting my time with this 'report', you've made it less likely that I will click through the next teaser you send me. Try and get a little more substance . . . or editing. The subject is a worthwhile one . . . how about getting beneath the surface before trying to sell us something?

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 8:26 PM, canticle wrote:

    First - the difficulty with this article is that it has no meaning. Meaning is found only in numerical relationships - no number standing alone tells us anything. Financially numbers gain more meaning with more relationships. Raw numbers, ratios, percentages, and longitudinal change all combine to provide investors with information that will prove helpful in decision making. This article provides nothing of use.

    Second - sometimes it seems as if there are only the same twenty to thirty stocks that Fool uses to illustrate all of their articles. This lack of diversity also proves problematic in gaining knowledge.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 9:17 PM, AuditDir wrote:

    Dear Fools,

    I agree with the comments above. This kind of poorly-written article is one reason the Motley Fool site is trashed by outsiders ... perhaps for good reason?

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2013, at 2:10 AM, emberny32 wrote:

    Just another meaningless headline to suck you in. I should know better by now

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2013, at 2:16 AM, wesler wrote:

    Need cash flow, yield, payout ratio, growth history and projected growth to evaluate dividend stock.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2013, at 6:53 AM, SaraW946 wrote:

    Having watched my best friend smoke herself to death, then suffer most horribly in pain, I wouldn't invest in Philip Morris International for anything!

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2013, at 9:56 AM, bebop111 wrote:

    This is a foolish piece in the negativve sense of the word. Almost nothing useful here. Please, have a little respect for the intelligence of the reader.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2013, at 10:02 AM, nccoasters2 wrote:

    I don't care for this type of sales hype tool. You suck people in and then the lack of information given sucks too.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2013, at 10:22 AM, rebozo2 wrote:

    In the future please post articles of substance. I agree with the above comments and consider the piece time wasting headline fluff - Rupert Murdoch does it better.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2013, at 12:02 PM, riwaterman wrote:

    This type of article on Motley Fool is a complete waste of bandwidth.

    MF - you have strayed too too far from your original roots. Every e-mail I get from you is a scavenger hunt - a lead in to an advertisement. If I want to know more click here garbage.

    As a premium subscriber I expect a lot lot more, please rethink your articles and policies.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2013, at 9:20 PM, Filamkiwi wrote:

    I am really a 'fool' to subscribe in this useless articles. Give me something solid, a real meat.

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2013, at 7:56 AM, mikecart1 wrote:

    Honestly, I'm not sure the point of this article. Absolute dollar values mean nothing. A company with yearly net income of $5 billion a year that is paying out a dividend of $6 billion isn't good. A company that generates $1 billion a year that is paying out a dividend $100 million seems a lot better. Confused by article.

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2013, at 7:44 PM, dsciola wrote:

    Yep, pretty worthless. I'de rather look at the actual dividend / share than the whole company wide dividend...

    Case in Point, GE pays < $1 / sh, but CVX pays > $3 / sh...which one would u rather own? Just based on dividend amt's that is. Echo above that gotta evaluate in context of earnings, cash flow, etc for dividend sustainability.

    Dom

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 10:45 AM, mukhlis wrote:

    I subscribed to the Motley Fools hoping I will get good stock recommendations, but after a week I found they post useless articles and not good stock recommendations. I can read financial articles and get good investment ideas in any website for free.

    Mike Mikhaiel

    mmikh89990@aol.com

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 10:52 AM, mukhlis wrote:

    The only good things they do is advertise for their website and trick people to subscribe in their site.

    Mike Mikhaiel

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