Who wouldn't like stocks that pay a really high dividend yield and deliver really high returns? You might think that stocks that check off both boxes would be rarer than a unicorn galloping in a field of four-leaf clovers. But that's not the case at all.

There are several high-yield dividend stocks that have soared 24% or more so far in 2019. Three that especially stand out are Ford (NYSE:F), Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ:WDC), and Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI). Here's why these stocks have skyrocketed this year and whether they're still smart picks for long-term investors.

Man pointing to an line trending up with the word Yield printed above the line

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1. Ford

Ford's dividend currently yields a juicy 5.74%. That puts it at the top of the auto industry, which is chock-full of high-yield dividend stocks. But not only does Ford's dividend beat its rivals, but the stock's performance stands in a league of its own as well. Ford's shares have soared more than 35% so far in 2019.

The auto stock really began to differentiate itself in early April, after Ford released its preliminary first-quarter sales numbers. Although total vehicle sales slipped from the prior-year period, Ford's trucks and SUVs generated solid year-over-year growth.

This set the stage for the company's first-quarter earnings update later in the month. Ford returned to earnings growth and blew past the consensus Wall Street earnings estimate. The strong performance appeared to underscore the wisdom of the company's decision last year to discontinue making passenger cars for the North American market. 

2. Western Digital

Western Digital pays a really nice dividend for a technology company, with its yield standing at 3.91%. Its stock skyrocketed nearly 50% by late April before giving up some its gains. The data storage company's shares are still up 24% year to date.

Somewhat surprisingly, Western Digital enjoyed its first big bump of the year after reporting weak fiscal Q2 results in late January. Revenue was at the lower end of the company's guidance range. The company missed the consensus analysts' earnings estimate as well. However, Western Digital's earnings guidance for Q3 was better than expected and provided a boost to the stock.

The bad news was that the company didn't come close to meeting its lofty Q3 earnings estimates after being hit hard by falling flash memory prices. This unpleasant surprise caused Western Digital stock to retreat from its previous highs for the year.

3. Kinder Morgan

Kinder Morgan's dividend yield currently stands at 5.03%. Even better, shares of the pipeline giant have risen 28% so far in 2019, with most of the gain coming in the first couple of months of the year.

Investors appeared to be anticipating strong fourth-quarter results from Kinder Morgan in the weeks leading up to the company's earnings update on Jan. 17. And that's what they got: The company reported better-than-expected results for Q4. 

After an initial pause as the market digested Kinder Morgan's Q4 update, the stock returned to its winning ways. In April, Kinder Morgan again reported solid quarterly results that met expectations. The company continued to generate strong cash flow and should continue to do so with its expansion efforts.

Are they buys?

I'm not a big fan of one of these three high-yield stocks. Western Digital is simply too volatile for my taste with the up-and-down swings of flash prices. 

As for Ford, it's still early in the process for the auto giant's turnaround. I like the company's long-term prospects and really like its dividend. For now, though, my view is to watch Ford from the sidelines.

That leaves Kinder Morgan. It's not a bargain stock by any stretch. But with a great dividend and strong growth, you wouldn't expect it to be a bargain. I think the company's investments in expansion over the next few years will continue to drive growth. In my view, Kinder Morgan is a high-flying high-yield dividend stock that's still one for long-term investors to consider buying.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.