"Yield" means to give in or give up when the term is used outside the investing world. That definition isn't too far off when it comes to some dividend stocks. Those stocks might pay high yields, but investors have to give up a lot for those yields, including peace of mind that the dividend is sustainable.
There are several high-yield dividend stocks, though, that I think are solid picks over the long run. Here's why AT&T (NYSE:T), International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM), and Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX) are three stocks with attractive yields that I'd buy right now.
AT&T claims one of the best pedigrees when it comes to dividends of any stock. The telecommunications giant sports a fantastic yield of 5.41%. It's also a Dividend Aristocrat, with an impressive record of 33 consecutive years of dividend increases.
I don't see any reason to think that AT&T won't keep that long streak of dividend increases going. The company does use a relatively high 92% of earnings to fund the dividend program, but that's not a big concern, considering its rock-solid cash flow.
More importantly, though, AT&T seems poised for decent long-term earnings growth. Assuming the pending acquisition of Time Warner gets a thumbs-up from regulators, AT&T will get a large content library to help it compete in the wireless cable market. And the company has started rolling out its high-speed 5G network that should make AT&T a major force in the Internet of Things and self-driving-car markets.
AT&T stock also looks attractive from a valuation perspective. Shares trade at only 12 times expected earnings. With its nice yield and reasonable growth prospects, AT&T appears to be a top-tier candidate for income-seeking investors.
There's a lot to like about IBM's dividend also. The big technology company's yield currently stands at 4.12%. Even better, IBM's payout ratio of roughly 47%, along with its strong cash flow, should give the company plenty of flexibility for dividend increases in the future.
IBM does come with a catch, though: The technology giant has reported year-over-year revenue declines for 21 quarters in a row. And although IBM posted earnings growth in its last quarter, that improvement stemmed from a tax benefit rather than good news from its business operations.
So is there good news for IBM? Yes. The company continues to enjoy robust growth for its mobile and cloud services. IBM recently introduced a new mainframe computer that should boost revenue. Because IBM makes a lot of its money internationally, a weaker U.S. dollar should help as well. Over the longer term, IBM's expertise and leadership in artificial intelligence could be an even greater factor for the company's fortunes.
In the meantime, IBM stock looks pretty cheap. Shares trade at less than 11 times expected earnings. Although the company isn't expected to generate impressive growth in the near term, IBM's dividend and long-term prospects seem solid.
If you're searching for a super-high yield, check out Seagate Technology. The data-storage manufacturer's dividend yields 7.9%.
There are a few knocks against Seagate, though. Seagate is currently spending nearly all of its earnings to fund the dividend program, which doesn't bode well for dividend increases in the immediate future. And its yield is really high in part because Seagate stock has dropped more than 30% in the past six months.
So why buy Seagate Technology stock? Its problems should be temporary. Over the long run, demand for data storage will inevitably increase. Seagate is one of the top competitors in the market. It has a strong cash flow that should allow the company to retain its position as a key leader in data storage.
The stock's valuation also looks attractive, particularly after the big slump this year. Seagate shares trade at less than nine times expected earnings. The consensus among Wall Street analysts is that the company will be able to grow earnings at 18% annually over the next five years. Even if Seagate's actual performance comes in well below those projections, its growth prospects make the stock look even more appealing for dividend-hunting investors who also like a bargain.