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3 Stocks to Supplement Your Social Security Income

By Keith Noonan - Updated Sep 21, 2018 at 9:50AM

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AT&T, Realty Income, and Hanesbrands trade at reasonable valuations and will pay you to own them.

The average Social Security payment comes out to roughly $1,400 a month.  That might not sound too bad, assuming you've stashed away some funds for your nonworking years. However, expenses can add up quickly and having other sources of income is key to getting the most out of your retirement.

Besides owning bonds and income-generating assets like real estate, retirees should consider building a portfolio of reliable, dividend-paying stocks that can provide another source of cash. Within that mold, AT&T (T 1.31%), Realty Income (O 0.75%), and Hanesbrands (HBI 1.22%) stand out as top investment vehicles to supplement your Social Security income. 

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1. AT&T

AT&T's 6.2% yield and 33-year streak of annual dividend growth make it a top choice for generating extra income in retirement, and its central position in the communications industry should help it keep the payouts flowing. The company runs America's second-largest wireless network, is the country's largest pay-TV provider, and has recently become one of the world's leading entertainment companies thanks its merger with Time Warner. 

AT&T remains a worthwhile dividend play even in light of cord-cutting trends and headwinds  in the mobile service space. Jockeying among the company and its mobile wireless competitors Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile to deliver superior value is hurting pricing power.

The good news for AT&T is that it still has a strong brand, and demand for mobile data isn't going to decline. In fact, mobile data demand should actually increase as video streaming grows to account for more of the internet's data consumption, and technologies like augmented reality become more mainstream, requiring more-advanced service. The company is already adding new service connections for smart cars and smartwatches, and there's still plenty of room to grow in the broader Internet of Things category.

AT&T shares trade at roughly 9 times this year's expected earnings -- a valuation that presents an attractive entry point for retirees looking for a dependable dividend-paying stock. The cost of distributing its current payout comes in at roughly 70% of the $21 billion in free cash flow (FCF) that the company expects to generate in the current fiscal year -- a level that shouldn't prohibit additional payout increases.  That $21 billion in expected FCF for this year also does not take into account the contribution from the Time Warner business. Based on the roughly $4.6 billion in FCF that Time Warner generated in 2017, the merger should improve the company's ability to cover its dividend and deliver payout growth -- just as it laid out when it first announced the merger. 

2. Realty Income

Realty Income is a real estate investment trust (REIT), which means that it generates income from properties it owns and is required to pass at least 90% of its earnings along to shareholders in the form of dividends. As its self-given moniker of The Monthly Dividend Company says, Realty Income pays a dividend on a monthly basis -- making it a great fit for retirees looking to generate extra cash.

The company's annualized payout comes to $2.64 per share -- good for a yield of 4.5%, and shareholders can look forward to regular dividend growth. In addition to cutting monthly checks, Realty Income also raises its payout more frequently than most other divided-paying companies (97 times across 83 consecutive quarters).

The company primarily rents to retail businesses, and while headwinds in the brick-and-mortar retail world brought on by the rise of online shopping might raise concerns, Realty Income's customer base largely consists of companies that are well suited to withstand e-commerce trends. Even as online shopping continues to gain ground, businesses like supermarkets, gyms, discount retailers, and movie theaters face smaller risks of disruption. Realty Income isn't feeling the e-commerce squeeze: The company boasts a 98.7% occupancy rate for its properties, the highest level it has recorded in a decade. 

With expectations for net income per share to grow at roughly 7% based on the midpoint of the company's guidance this year, the stock might look expensive trading at 44 times expected earnings. But P/E ratios aren't particularly helpful for valuing REITs because the companies are required to count depreciation against earnings. Using a more appropriate metric for REITs, the company trades at roughly 18 times this year's expected adjusted funds from operations, a reasonable valuation in the context of its sturdy business and great dividend profile. 

3. Hanesbrands

Hanesbrands stock yields roughly 3.4% at current prices, and shareholders can look forward to substantial payout growth. The cost of distributing its current dividend comes in at less than half of trailing FCF even after tripling its payout over the last five years. And management has indicated that continuing dividend growth remains a top capital allocation priority. It appears to be in position to make good on that goal. 

Hanesbrands expects its free cash flow to increase more than 80% over the next five years, guiding for roughly $4 billion in FCF from 2018 to 2022 -- up from the $2.2 billion that the company recorded across the previous five-year period. If things go according to the company's projections, it could conceivably double its dividend again by 2022 (which means shares purchased today would yield roughly 6.8%) and still be paying out somewhere in the neighborhood of half its free cash flow. 

Hanesbrands' share price recently took a significant hit following news that Target would not be renewing its contract with the company. But the stock now looks like an especially viable and cheap dividend play in light of the sell-offs. With brands including Hanes, Champion, Playtex, and Wonderbra, the company has a collection of recognizable, trusted product lines. It can depend on them to help drive slow, steady sales growth as the business reorients to improve profitability and better meet market demands. These initiatives include building out its online direct-to-consumer sales, expanding in international markets, and reducing operating expenses. 

Valued at roughly 10 times this year's expected earnings and just below the level of this year's expected sales, Hanesbrands is a worthwhile stock for supplementing your Social Security income.

Building a diversified income-generating portfolio

AT&T, Realty Income, and Hanesbrands each trade at non-prohibitive valuations and offer sizable yields. Each company also looks to be capable of keeping regular payouts coming, but retirees shouldn't count on just a handful of dividend stocks because just one company cutting or suspending its dividend could leave you short of funds that you're depending on. Great dividend stocks aren't a dime a dozen, but it's worth looking at a range of potentially worthwhile candidates and building a diversified income-generating portfolio that you can count on for years to come.  

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Stocks Mentioned

AT&T Inc. Stock Quote
AT&T Inc.
$20.55 (1.31%) $0.27
Realty Income Corporation Stock Quote
Realty Income Corporation
$68.57 (0.75%) $0.51
Hanesbrands Inc. Stock Quote
Hanesbrands Inc.
$12.85 (1.22%) $0.15

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

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