Investors' positive feelings about any given stock may wax and wane over time, but for many well-established organizations, dividends are enduring. For such companies, that's what makes them so lucrative: the reliability of the paycheck they dole out even when times get tough. Investors looking for income from their holdings should go on the hunt for such companies in difficult times, as depressed stock prices can mean high yields. These Motley Fool contributors say that three high-yield stocks for the long haul are Ford (NYSE:F), Enbridge (NYSE:ENB), and General Mills (NYSE:GIS).
An automaker down on its luck ... sort of
Nicholas Rossolillo (Ford): The last few years have not been kind to Ford. Shares have tumbled 50% from their high-water mark reached back in 2014 as profitability has slowly declined. That has been a confounding situation for investors because, until just recently, global auto sales have been steadily increasing for years.
Ford rode that wave here in the U.S. with the ever-popular F-150 trucks, Mustang, and SUV models. The story has been different in China, though, where an aging product lineup has consumers shopping elsewhere for a new car. That has also been the case as of late in the U.S., especially in the lagging sedan segment that's losing its luster to crossovers and SUVs.
When you add to that Ford's tardiness in developing electric powertrain vehicles and an autonomous vehicle strategy, the worries over the automaker's fate mounted and have sent the stock on a slow downward spiral.
Ford has begun to right the ship, but transforming a huge manufacturing operation doesn't happen overnight. New models will begin rolling out late this year, a makeover that Ford says will all but eliminate traditional sedans from North America. And electric and hybrid versions of all models should be available in the early 2020s. Ford has also been building its tech muscles by acquisition and launching new services in select markets like ridesharing and cars by subscription.
Changes like that take time to bear fruit, and they cost money. In spite of the concerns, Ford still has a strong balance sheet and generates plenty of cash. That makes the dividend, which is yielding 6.6% as of this writing, an intriguing reason to bet on a rebound for the bludgeoned stock. Ford has been in tough spots before -- automaking is cyclical, after all. While holding through the ups and downs can be unnerving, Ford's dedication to an investor payday via that dividend is a great reason to own this one for a long time.
Love it or hate it, you need it
Chuck Saletta (Enbridge): Few companies inspire such an impassioned debate as energy pipeline companies like Enbridge do. On one hand, many environmentalists hate the fact that they make it easier and cheaper to transport (and thus use) oil and natural gas as sources of energy. On the other hand, pragmatists argue that if you're going to use oil and natural gas, pipelines are generally the safest and most reliable way to get them from where they're found to where they're needed.
And we certainly do use oil and natural gas. Despite increases in energy efficiency and recent increased adoption of electric vehicles, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects the net demand across oil and natural gas to increase through at least 2050. That means the need to move that oil and gas around will continue to be strong for decades to come.
As the operator of the world's longest transport system for crude oil and liquids energy, Enbridge is well positioned to continue to thrive as long as the demand for that energy remains strong. From an investor's perspective, that strength has been reflected in a dividend that has been paid for 64 years, and has risen at a better than 11% average annualized clip for the past 20 years.
That dividend currently offers investors somewhere in the neighborhood of a 6% yield, and the company expects to be able to continue increasing its dividend in the near future. With the long-term strength of its business supporting its dividend, Enbridge certainly looks like a candidate for consideration as a potential high-yield investment to buy and hold for the long term.
Daniel Miller (General Mills): So much in the world can -- and does -- change seemingly overnight, that it's difficult for many companies to keep up. That makes picking long-term stocks difficult. But General Mills has durable competitive advantages that should enable it to deliver its high dividend yield, currently 4.4%, to investors for the long haul.
One advantage General Mills has is its long list of powerful brands, including Häagen-Dazs, Cheerios, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Old El Paso, Pillsbury, and many more. Those powerful brands help retailers across the nation drive store traffic and inventory turnover, and it makes General Mills a valued partner. Through those long-standing relationships with retailers, General Mills is able to retain extremely valuable shelf space, a key factor to maintaining market share.
General Mills also has advantages due to its sheer size. The company generated $15.7 billion in revenue during fiscal 2018, and its wide manufacturing and distribution network lowers its costs compared with smaller competitors. And all that enables it to invest in research and development at a higher rate to adapt more quickly to changing consumer tastes.
One gripe from investors has been a mostly stagnant top line. And while you can argue that General Mills' $8 billion purchase of pet-food manufacturer Blue Buffalo was expensive, it was an intriguing move into nontraditional categories for the company that should support top-line growth, and will be accretive to earnings in 2020.
Ultimately, with its long list of brands entrenching its relationships with retailers, economies of scale due to its sheer size and distribution network, and creative acquisitions to help drive top-line growth, General Mills has a stable business to offer investors. Its dividend, which the company has paid uninterrupted for 119 years, is simply icing on the cake.