If you're a Chevron (CVX -1.16%) shareholder, you likely bought the stock at least in part because of its attractive dividend. At 3.4%, the energy giant's yield is far above the broader market's 2% average.
You could do better, though.
Below, Motley Fool investors highlight a few stocks with more generous payouts than Chevron. Read on to find out why Total (TTE -1.62%), Target (TGT 0.92%), and Vale (VALE 1.28%) make more compelling income investments today.
Built for today, investing in tomorrow
Maxx Chatsko (Total): If we're keeping score, then Chevron actually boasts the lowest dividend yield among the six largest oil supermajors. Though Total doesn't lead the pack, it does offer an attractive 4.9% dividend yield and an impressive portfolio of oil and gas assets that should be very profitable in 2018 as energy prices rise.
Total made several acquisitions and began ramping up volumes at several existing assets in the first nine months of 2017, which will contribute to production gains and profit expansion in the year ahead. It currently trades at the lowest future price-to-earnings ratio of its oil major peers. The company's net debt-to-equity ratio fell below 20%, which provides the flexibility to make growth investments that it hopes will quickly return profits. Cash flow before working capital of $15 billion in the first three quarters of 2017 certainly didn't hurt, either.
Even though oil and gas will remain fixtures in the global economy for decades to come, Total has long invested in diversifying its future business. While other supermajors are beginning to explore similar strategies, the French energy giant has a sizable lead today.
It owns roughly 56% of solar panel manufacturer SunPower. That could pay off handsomely if the American solar industry enters a golden age of capacity expansion in the years ahead, as currently appears to be the case. It's invested in a bevy of next-generation renewable fuel technologies and start-ups. There may not be much success to speak of in the space, but Total's wheeling and dealing has allowed it to combine several emerging technologies in unique ways that could give it insights into a profitable path forward.
Simply put, Total is a solid dividend stock to own for investors looking to gain exposure to energy markets -- both today and tomorrow.
Betting on a retail rebound
Demitri Kalogeropoulos (Target): An investment in Target comes with a slightly higher dividend yield than Chevron's, along with a decent shot at market-beating stock price gains. Yes, the retailer is struggling to adapt as consumers change the way they shop for everything from apparel to groceries. But as its main rival Wal-Mart has demonstrated, those shifts don't have to mean declining sales or permanently weaker profits for bricks-and-mortar retailers.
Like Wal-Mart, Target enjoyed a modest customer traffic rebound and booming growth in its digital sales channel over the last few quarters. As a result, comparable-store sales are on pace to tick higher by about 1% this year and mark a nice recovery from 2016's slight decrease.
Target has had to pay a steep price for that return to growth, though. Promotions are sending gross profits down and operating margin has also dipped as executives spend aggressively on things like wages and e-commerce infrastructure.
CEO Brian Cornell and his team believe those investments will help the company return to healthier, if still modest, sales and profit gains. Investors who agree might considering buying this Dividend Aristocrat at its fire-sale valuation of just 14 times earnings, compared to Wal-Mart's P/E of 26.
Get ready to be rewarded if you're invested in this commodity stock
Neha Chamaria (Vale S.A.): At 3.6%, Vale's dividend yield is only slightly higher than Chevron's, but you should also know that Vale is offering the yield despite a jaw-dropping 62% rally in its shares in the past one year. Chevron, on the other hand, is up only around 8% during the period.
As its stock performance reveals, Vale had an incredible 2017. While it's easy to credit higher commodity prices for the recent run-up in mining stocks like Vale, the company deserves credit where it's due. Vale devoted 2017 to reviewing its asset base and chalking out a plan to exit noncore businesses while increasing focus on the core ones, especially copper, nickel, and iron ore pellets. The miner is expected to put several of its assets on the chopping block starting this year, which should not only free up cash and bring in more than $1 billion in proceeds but also remove bottlenecks to margin expansion.
Vale's cash flows should get a further boost as its capital expenditures taper in the next five years. Backed by its restructuring and deleveraging efforts, Vale expects to generate "significant" shareholder returns, running into double-digit percentages, by 2020.
Here's the best part: Investors in Vale can expect encouraging news on the dividend front. That's because in fiscal 2017 alone, Vale expects to generate $14 billion-$15 billion in cash flows, which it intends to use to pare debt and boost dividends. In fact, CEO Fabio Schvartsman reportedly recently said during an event that "paying very high dividends was becoming a "company policy," according to Reuters. With strong cash flow growth potential and a dividend payout of less than 30%, I wouldn't be surprised if Vale rewards shareholders with tidy dividend increases this year onward and continues to yield over 3%.