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3 High-Yield Bank Stocks

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In this low-rate environment, here are three North American banks offering higher-than-average yields.

In this low-interest-rate environment, it can be difficult for retirees to find safe havens churning out more than 2% per year. In the spirit of finding some well-known names with higher-than-average yields, we asked three Motley Fool investors to identify high-yield bank stocks that are worth looking into.

Read on to find out why TD Bank (TD 0.98%)Wells Fargo (WFC 1.92%) , and Cullen/Frost Bankers (CFR 1.53%) all made the list.

Three stacks of coins in dirt with plants sprouting out of them.

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Some of the best bank stocks are north of the border

Matt Frankel (Toronto-Dominion Bank): Canadian banks have historically been more stable than U.S. banks. In fact, while the U.S. has had a few banking crises in my lifetime, Canada's last one was in 1839. Because of their stability, many of the large Canadian banks have fantastic dividend histories, and because the Federal Reserve doesn't have to approve their capital policy, they can pay higher dividends than many U.S. banks can.

My favorite Canadian bank is Toronto-Dominion Bank, better known to consumers as TD Bank. TD is the fifth largest North American bank by assets and has more than 2,400 retail branches in Canada and the United States. However, it's important to mention that most of TD's U.S. presence is on the East Coast, leaving tons of room to expand.

TD Bank has an excellent track record, not only of growing, but also of translating its organic growth and acquisitions into fantastic returns for shareholders. Over the past decade, the bank's annualized total return is triple the average among North American big banks -- an average of 10.5% per year, which is especially impressive considering the financial crisis occurred during this time period.

Finally, as far as TD's dividend goes, few U.S.-based banks can match its record. The bank yields more than 3.3% based on the current share price and has raised its dividend at a 11% annualized rate since 1995. Most impressively, the bank has paid dividends for 160 years in a row. So while a stock's part performance doesn't guarantee its future results, TD has paid dividends every year since before the Civil War, and there's no reason to believe the situation will change anytime soon.

I hate this bank, but that's why you should love it

Brian Stoffel (Wells Fargo): The last thing I'll ever claim to be is a banking expert. I have no investments in the industry, and don't intend to anytime soon. Yet for such an uninformed investor in the sphere, I think I have a pretty solid reason for singling out Wells Fargo and its dividend.

I've been banking with Wells for over a decade. The scandals of the past two years  have persuaded my wife and me to leave the bank. We weren't affected -- that we know of -- by having any fake accounts created in our name. For us, it's a matter of principle.

But here's the thing: It's a huge pain to change banks. We have so much tied to our accounts that it's taking us much longer than expected to straighten everything out before making the switch. If we're doing this out of principle, and it's causing us this much pain, I can only imagine that the average Wells Fargo client is just going to grin and bear it -- staying with the bank for the long haul.

Yet the bank's stumbles have created an opportunity for investors. While the yield isn't quite as high as it was when the scandal broke, it's 2.8% yield is higher than it ever was between 2010 and 2016.

A Texas-sized streak of increasing dividends

Steve Symington (Cullen/Frost Bankers): Texas-based Cullen/Frost Bankers might not be a true high-yield bank stock, even with its healthy 2.5% annual yield as of this writing. But for those willing to buy shares and let their gains compound, I think the boot fits, considering the company has increased its dividend for 24 straight years -- a streak most recently extended by a 6% bump in its quarterly payout, to $0.57 per share, this past April. 

To be fair, the stock was hurt in recent years by Cullen/Frost's modest exposure to the energy sector. But it also effectively turned the corner as energy markets stabilized in late 2016. And there were no surprises in its latest quarterly results, released in July. Higher loan volumes and interest rates helped net interest income grow a healthy 12.1% year over year, to $258 million. Net income grew 20.2% to $83.5 million, and earnings per share increased 16.2% to $1.29 -- all roughly in line with expectations.

With Cullen/Frost shares now trading at a reasonable 16.7 times forward earnings, I think the stock is an attractive bet for investors looking for relative stability and a predictable, growing dividend.

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Stocks Mentioned

Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. Stock Quote
Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc.
CFR
$118.23 (1.53%) $1.78
Wells Fargo & Company Stock Quote
Wells Fargo & Company
WFC
$39.92 (1.92%) $0.75
The Toronto-Dominion Bank Stock Quote
The Toronto-Dominion Bank
TD
$66.22 (0.98%) $0.64

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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