Chasing yield can be a risky pursuit for investors, but sometimes the company with a high yield still deserves your attention because its business remains solid and can support the payout.
A rare opportunity
George Budwell (AbbVie): AbbVie, a large-cap drugmaker, has seen its dividend yield balloon to historic highs in just the past three weeks. At present levels, the company's stock sports a monstrous yield of 4.68%, which also happens to be among the most generous within its big-pharma peer group. What's driving this favorable trend for income investors?
AbbVie's dividend has shot up in the waning days of 2018 for two reasons. First, the company recently announced an 11.5% hike to its quarterly payout starting in February 2019. But its shares have dropped by an unsightly 11.6% so far this year -- the second key reason behind the drugmaker's rather rich payout.
Why are investors sidestepping this Dividend Aristocrat and its juicy yield? The market is understandably worried about AbbVie's ability to keep growing its top line at industry-leading levels. Its most important revenue source -- the arthritis medication Humira -- now faces biosimilar competition in Europe, putting a whopping $6 billion in annual sales at risk. Compounding matters, AbbVie's growing hepatitis C franchise appears destined to begin tapering off in the not-so-distant future. The hepatitis C drug market has been rapidly shrinking in value for years due to the curative nature of these groundbreaking treatments, after all.
Despite these threats to AbbVie's growth prospects, however, the drugmaker has given investors ample reasons for optimism. The company's diverse clinical pipeline has churned out several new growth products of late, including the potential blockbusters Orilissa (for endometriosis) and Venclexta (for chronic lymphocytic leukemia). And AbbVie's decision to pay a sky-high premium for about half of Imbruvica's sales has turned out to be a fantastic decision in hindsight. Imbruvica has been racking up label expansions across a variety of blood-based malignancies in the past two years, setting it up to generate upward of $9.5 billion in global sales by 2024.
In all, AbbVie appears to have the assets to power past these two particular risk factors. Conservative-minded income investors, therefore, may want to grab some shares while this top dividend stock remains an outright bargain.
This company has its feet in the right growth areas
Neha Chamaria (ABB): At a time that few industrial stocks pay high yields, ABB has entered the 4%-plus yield category thanks to its steep 25% drop so far this year, with most of those losses coming in October. The broader industrials rout is largely to blame, which is why ABB deserves closer attention now.
In its most recent quarter, ABB's total orders climbed 9% year over year, thanks to strong demand across a broad spectrum of industries including utility, mining, oil and gas, food and beverage, and construction, among others. ABB is a hugely diversified company with four broad operating segments: power grids, electrification, industrial automation, and robotics.
Each of ABB's businesses and geographic markets displayed strength last quarter, indicating broad-based growth for the company. That certainly doesn't warrant the fall in the share price. The company's near-term outlook is encouraging as well: It expects at least seven out of its 13 primary end markets to grow more than 3% through 2020.
There are other things to like about ABB. It has a strong balance sheet with a comfortable debt-to-equity ratio of 0.47, has consistently generated greater free cash flow than net income, and has increased its dividend every year in the past 10 years. Just bear in mind that ABB pays dividends in Swiss francs, so you want to factor in exchange rates to calculate your yield.
Overall, I believe industrial automation, renewable energy, and futuristic technologies such as the Internet of Things could open the doors to big opportunities for ABB, and that's what makes it a top high-yield stock to consider at current prices.
On target for higher highs
Rich Duprey (National Presto): While I was tempted to choose a third company whose name began with "ABB," I instead opted for National Presto, a defense munitions contractor, but one that is actually better known for its small kitchen appliances like fryers, griddles, and waffle makers.
While military-grade ammunition and ordnance sales account for over 75% of National Presto's revenue and all its operating profit, both segments are performing quite well. The defense segment enjoyed an 18% increase in third-quarter sales, while the housewares division saw revenue rise 15% year over year. Combined, they cobbled together a sturdy 15.6% gain for the period.
National Presto has a prime lock on a piece of the defense budget, as it is the world's largest-volume producer of 40 mm ammunition through its AMTEC division. It is also the sole contractor to the Defense Department for such ammo because AMTEC acquired the only other contractor for these munitions in 2013.
The defense contractor and kitchen gadget maker has an unbroken streak of paying dividends to shareholders for 74 years, a payout that currently yields 4.8%. Despite its importance to the military (and to home chefs everywhere), National Presto hasn't attracted an analyst following, meaning it flies under Wall Street's radar. That probably helps explain why its stock is up 33% year to date versus a flat S&P 500, and ought to have you seriously considering this investment.
George Budwell owns shares of AbbVie. Neha Chamaria owns shares of ABB. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.