Not all dividend stocks are equally safe, and sometimes, a high yield can be a danger sign. But for bold investors who are willing to accept more risk in pursuit of those muscular dividends, there are options on the market that might make more conservative investors step back.
We asked three of our contributors to name their favorite bold dividend stock picks today for investors in search of high yields, and willing to risk share price dips or possible payout cuts down the road. Here's why they selected DineEquity Inc. (NYSE:DIN), Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX), and NextEra Energy Partners LP (NYSE:NEP).
If This Chain Turns the Corner, It Could Be Lucrative
Brian Stoffel (DineEquity): Let me start by saying that I'm not the most daring of dividend investors, and I do not own shares of DineEquity -- parent company of the IHOP and Applebee's restaurant chains. But I do recognize the potential for monster returns when I see them, and I believe DineEquity is worth investigating for the daring.
Let's start with the negatives: These two restaurant chains have seen better days. Comparable-store sales -- the key metric for restaurant investors -- haven't been particularly healthy.
While IHOP hasn't been faring as poorly as Applebee's, both chains are now seeing comp sales shrink. Without a serious and effective turnaround effort, shareholders will suffer the consequences. And given the fact that the company doesn't have a permanent CEO in place, investors have every right to worry.
On the flip side, however, at this point, the bar is set pretty low in terms of the stock's valuation. Any incremental improvement in traffic at Applebee's or a reacceleration at IHOP could provide a noticeable boost for shareholders.
And those who are willing to stick around will be rewarded with an 8.3% dividend yield. The payout itself is actually reasonably healthy, soaking up only 73% of free cash flow over the past twelve months. It's possible that payout could be slashed to provide the company with extra flexibility, but such are the risks that daring dividend investors take on.
Making life easier for dialysis patients
Dan Caplinger (Chevron): The energy industry has been challenging over the past couple of years, and even industry giants like integrated oil and gas company Chevron have felt the pinch. Chevron's share price declines weren't as steep as those of smaller companies that focus solely on exploration and production, but the failure of crude oil prices to climb much above the low $50s per barrel has still led to dramatic reductions in its revenue and profits.
Right now, Chevron offers dividend investors a yield of nearly 4%, which is near the top of what you'll find in the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average. What makes Chevron a bold pick is that its stock price has climbed back almost to where it traded in 2014 when oil prices were much higher. The company has figured out how to improve its efficiency, which is helping it to be more profitable even under challenging conditions, but it's likely that the current share price reflects the expectation that higher oil and natural gas prices are on their way. If that prediction proves to be incorrect, then Chevron could face downside pressure. On the other hand, the belief among most industry experts that a relief rally for crude is likely could help Chevron maintain its positive momentum and keep climbing.
A renewable energy dividend hanging on for dear life
Travis Hoium (NextEra Energy Partners): Bold investors know that renewable energy is the future. And companies that get out in front of the trend will be able to profit long term, locking in decades worth of cash flows and dividends. That's what yieldcos are designed to do, and NextEra Energy Partners is one of the leaders in the space, with a 4.2% dividend yield.
What makes yieldcos a bold investment is that they're reliant on a low dividend yield to grow. When the dividend is low -- as NextEra Energy Partners' is -- the company can issue new shares and debt to buy renewable projects with long-term contracts that will be additive to the dividend long-term. But if the dividend yield gets too high, the yieldco can't issue shares for acquisitions at a price that would allow the purchases to be additive, so their expansion and dividend growth stall out.
We've seen yieldco yields get too high at a number of companies, including 8point3 Energy Partners and even NRG Yield. The risk is that NextEra Energy will wind up in the same situation. But right now, the company, and its parent NextEra Energy have the market's confidence, which that's keeping the dividend yield low. If that trend continues, this is a dividend stock that could grow its payout by double-digit percentages for many, many years to come.