Investors today can earn a roughly 2% annual yield by purchasing an index fund that tracks the broader market. Yet there are far bigger payouts available among individual stocks.
Below, Motley Fool investors offer up Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), and CoreCivic (NYSE:CXW) as good options for achieving higher dividend yields -- without taking on too much additional risk.
This dividend stock has a chip on its shoulder
Dan Caplinger (Qualcomm): Technology companies haven't historically been known for their dividends, but the sector has generally seen a big boost in the amount of dividend income that big tech players pay out to their shareholders. Qualcomm is one example of that trend, with the chipmaker having quadrupled its dividend payments in less than a decade. Although dividend growth has slowed somewhat as its payout has grown, Qualcomm now sports a more than 4% yield despite its share price having enjoyed huge gains over the past year.
Qualcomm has been the subject of intense scrutiny lately. On one hand, Broadcom made an unsolicited bid to buy the chipmaker, and although Qualcomm rejected the initial offer, it might be open to a more generous follow-up bid. On the other hand, Qualcomm faces some legal issues that could pose a threat to future growth, and it has also had to deal with adverse decisions from regulators internationally that have resulted in substantial fines. All told, the company has a lot going for it, and in a red-hot environment for the technology sector, Qualcomm appears to be well-positioned to keep taking advantage of plentiful opportunities to expand its business and reward its shareholders through both dividend payments and share-price appreciation.
Still a stock to lock up
Rich Duprey (Core Civic): The election of Donald Trump as president last year was seen as a boon to private prison operators like CoreCivic, whose stock, along with shares of industry peer GEO Group, soared on the results. The previous administration had begun the process of winding down usage of private contractors for inmate facilities, but Trump's hardline stance on immigration was seen as necessitating continuing the use of private contractors to house illegal immigrants who were detained.
A Homeland Security report found last year that 65% of all such detainees were housed in facilities owned or operated by private, for-profit contractors, and that such use would need to be continued.
However, things haven't quite worked out as anticipated as some contracts were not renewed, like CoreCivic's contract for its Eden, Texas, facility that ended April 30 as the Federal Bureau of Prisons decided to close the prison. That caused revenues to drop by tens of millions of dollars each quarter, and after hitting a new 52-week high in March, CoreCivic's stock has tumbled 35%. However, CoreCivic has also won additional contracts from various levels of government since then and has made strategic acquisitions, too, to help shore up the shortfall.
The private prison operator is structured as a real estate investment trust, which means it pays out almost all of its profits as dividends to investors, but over the past year, it has had to cut its payout. It maintains a targeted payout ratio of approximately 80% of adjusted funds from operations per share, which is equal to about 75% of CoreCivic's normalized FFO per share.
CoreCivic says that commitment "demonstrates our confidence in the business and provides sufficient flexibility," and with the current dividend yielding 7.3%, it remains a hardy player in the space.
Stick with the tried and true
Demitri Kalogeropoulos (Procter & Gamble): Its 3.1% payout might not sound massive, but P&G yields a full percentage point above what the broader market pays today. That's unusual, considering that the consumer products titan also boasts one of the longest-running dividend growth streaks around, at 61 years and counting.
In buying that historic dividend, income investors have to hope that P&G's future will be brighter than its recent past. Organic growth inched higher by just 2% last year, and while that was an improvement over the prior year's 1% uptick, the gains weren't enough to protect overall market share. Thus, P&G continued to struggle against branded and value-based competition that's reduced the dominance of global franchises like Gillette.
The company recently slashed prices in the shaving product line, and in so doing, chose to direct a portion of its savings from aggressive cost cuts toward achieving market share growth. At the same time, management believes the company's newly focused portfolio, now limited to just the biggest and most profitable franchises (like Tide, Gillette, Bounty, and Pampers), should lift operating results in the years ahead. It's not clear that this strategy will work, though, so investors willing to bet on it can benefit from a market-thumping yield from a true industry titan.
Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley Fool recommends Broadcom Ltd. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.