There are a lot of great companies on the stock market that don't get much attention from the media or Wall Street analysts. And a lot of them even pay hefty dividends.
Below are a few companies that offer great dividends for investors, and that you probably haven't heard of -- even though they provide products or services, or even own businesses, that you use every day.
The energy dividends you should really be betting on
Renewable energy yieldcos are some of the best, and least appreciated, dividend payers on the market. Yieldcos own primarily wind and solar assets that have long-term contracts to sell energy at set prices to utilities or corporate customers. In other words, these power-generating facilities are like bonds in that they have predictable cash flows that their owners use to pay dividends to investors.
Pattern Energy Group (NASDAQ:PEGI) and 8point3 Energy Partners (NASDAQ:CAFD) aren't exactly household names, but they're among the top yielders in the energy sector: Pattern is paying 6.6%, and 8point3 Energy Partners yields 7.2% right now. As I mentioned, the strength of these dividends is the long-term contracts behind them, which average around 20 years for new wind and solar projects.
Renewable energy can be a high-risk area for investment if you're betting on manufacturers or developers. But in the yieldco space, the risks are low and dividend yields are high, which is a combination more investors should taking advantage of.
Private equity and hedge fund fees
Among the most lucrative segments of the financial services industry right now are private equity funds and hedge funds -- two areas in which Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) is a leader. As these funds make gains or exit from investments, they rake in hundreds of millions, or even billions, in fees annually.
In the past year, Blackstone's distributions have been $2.29 per share, equating to a 6.8% dividend yield. But its dividend can be volatile: It fell to $1.52 in total in 2016, after surging as high as $2.73 per share in 2015.
Dividends will be lumpy from Blackstone. But as long as pension funds and wealthy investors keep looking for market-beating returns, there will be fees to be made and dividends to be paid by Blackstone.
The REIT with a little gamble to it
Gaming and Leisure Properties (NASDAQ:GLPI) is a REIT that owns resorts where Pinnacle Entertainment (NASDAQ: PNK) and Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) have casinos. Since it's a REIT, Gaming and Leisure Properties has to pay out at least 90% of its taxable income annually in dividends. Right now, that means investors are getting a 6.7% yield from the stock.
The gambling business exposes it to a different set of risks and opportunities than REITs that might own apartment buildings or commercial office space. The risks include the possibility of declining gaming revenue -- something that's most likely to occur in conjunction with a recession, as happened in the late 2000s. But gaming is also a highly regulated industry, so it's less likely that a market will experience over-saturation of casinos, while other REITs may have to deal with an excess of similar properties to theirs in the market.
At the end of the day, Gaming and Leisure Properties may not have the name-recognition of an MGM Resorts or a Wynn, but its 6.7% dividend yield is a strong payout for investors and may give you a type of exposure to real estate that other REITs can't.