Verizon (NYSE:VZ) (NYSE:VZA) is the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. and is well-known to income investors. Its dividend currently yields an impressive 4.3% and the company has raised its payout in each of the past 11 years. With a payout ratio of just 31%, it can easily handle its current dividend, with the potential for future increases. That said, although finding a better-paying income stock may be difficult, it's certainly not impossible.
With that in mind, we asked three Motley Fool contributors to choose solid income payers with yields that are even higher than that of Verizon. Read on to find out why they chose AT&T (NYSE:T), Ford (NYSE:F), and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS).
Danny Vena (AT&T): Telecom giant AT&T is well-known for its wireless business, as the second-largest carrier in the U.S. (behind only Verizon), and as the second-largest provider of pay television services through its DirecTV satellite service. With the recent addition of Time Warner -- now WarnerMedia -- its trifecta of wireless, content, and distribution is now complete, significantly increasing AT&T's footprint in the media landscape.
This isn't just any media, either. With HBO as its crown jewel, the company also controls TNT, TBS, and CNN cable networks, as well as Warner Bros. Studios and DC Comics. Controlling both the pipes and the content has become a key strategy for traditional media companies in a time of shifting consumer preferences.
Going forward, HBO will be a key part of AT&T's offerings in the evolving media landscape. The company already has plans to increase HBO's budget, which amounted to about $2.5 billion last year. This will better position it to compete in a world increasingly dominated by the adoption of streaming.
AT&T is working furiously to roll out 5G, conducting tests nationwide, and has plans to launch its next-generation wireless service in 12 U.S. cities by the end of the year. The company is also building out the foundation of its 5G capability, which is now partially available in 141 markets.
Uncertainties related to its recent acquisition of Time Warner and the government's decision to appeal have helped pressure AT&T's stock, with a valuation of just six times forward earnings. That has also served to boost the company's dividend, which currently boasts a juicy yield of 6.26% and pays out just 38% of its profits to support the dividend. Investors also have the confidence of knowing that AT&T has increased its dividend each year for 34 consecutive years.
With the opportunities created by WarnerMedia and its nationwide rollout of 5G, combined with a high yield and historically low valuation, AT&T checks all the boxes for income investors.
Ford is committed to its turnaround and its high yield
Chris Neiger (Ford): Verizon's impressive 4% dividend yield isn't easy to beat, but investors who are looking for a little bit more from their investment will be pleased with Ford's 6.28% yield.
Ford's share price is down about 10% over the past 12 months and part of the slide came after the company reported its second-quarter results, where total sales were by down 2.5% year over year. That's not great news, of course, but there's much more to Ford's future than its most recent quarterly results.
For example, the company is in the process of cutting $25.5 billion of expenses from its budget by 2022. That means that the company is axing vehicles from its U.S. lineup, which aren't selling well and will focus its attention on more in demand and lucrative trucks and SUVs. That means the company's cutting Ford-branded sedans from its lineup (though it'll hold on to the Mustang) as it aims for an 8% profit margin by 2020.
Additionally, Ford is putting a lot of effort into growing vehicle sales in China, which is the world's largest automotive market. The company has plans to launch about 50 new vehicles in the country by 2025. China represents a tremendous opportunity for Ford, as the country accounted for 31% of the overall passenger car market last year. The push into China may be slow-going at first, but investors should be patient with Ford's efforts there as it ramps up its vehicle offerings.
There's no denying that Ford is in the midst of a turnaround right now, but the company's commitment to cutting unprofitable vehicles and pivoting toward the growing Chinese market shows that Ford's management is focused on the company's long-term potential. Additionally, it's made it clear that the automaker has no plans to cut its generous dividend despite analyst speculation that it will. That's why investors looking for a dividend stock with a yield that far outpaces Verizon's -- and that's poised for a big turnaround -- should give Ford a close look.
The world's biggest casino company
Leo Sun (Las Vegas Sands): Las Vegas Sands, the biggest casino resorts operator in the world, pays a hefty forward dividend yield of 4.6%. It spent 73% of its free cash flow (FCF) on that payout over the past 12 months, and it's raised its dividend annually for five straight years. Its closest rival, Wynn Resorts, only pays a forward yield of 2.1%.
Sands owns the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas, the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and five major properties in Macau. It generates the vast majority of its revenue and profits from its Asian properties, and it plans to expand into Japan, which recently legalized casino resorts.
Wall Street expects Sands' revenue and earnings to grow 8% and 15%, respectively, this year. Those are decent growth rates for a stock that trades at 18 times forward earnings.
Sands pays a higher yield than Verizon, but its business is also more cyclical. Macau's year-over-year gross gaming revenue growth decelerated significantly over the past three months, Singapore remains weak, and it's a soft target amid escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China.
Moreover, Sands' plans to spend up to $10 billion on its Japanese resort could also throttle its FCF growth and boost its payout ratios to unsustainable levels. Investors should remember that Wynn's yield was once comparable to Sands', but Wynn slashed its dividend due to profitability issues in Macau.
Therefore, investors looking for a higher yield might want to check out Sands, but they should also be aware of the risks.