For dividend stocks, yield is king. But there are other considerations investors should be aware of before scanning the stock market for high-yielding companies. Quality of yield is important, for instance, but so are a company's prospects. A high yield, after all, may not mean much if the stock itself is about to tank.
With this in mind, we asked three of our Motley Fool contributors for their recommendations of high-yielding stocks with solid prospects. They came back with Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM), BP (NYSE:BP), and AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV). Here's why they think these dividend stocks are good buys right now.
A classic tobacco play with a low valuation and a high yield
Leo Sun (Philip Morris International): Philip Morris International was spun off from Altria (NYSE:MO) 11 years ago. PMI subsequently generated all of its revenue overseas, while Altria stayed in the United States. The spinoff allowed PMI to tap into higher-growth overseas markets with higher smoking rates than the U.S., but it also exposed it to tough currency headwinds and unpredictable regional challenges.
Yet PMI continued to grow as it raised prices to offset lower shipments, expanded into fresh markets such as heated tobacco products, and rewarded shareholders by increasing its dividend every year since its split with Altria.
PMI now pays a forward dividend yield of 5.5%, compared with the average S&P yield of 1.9%. That payout will account for about 89% of its adjusted EPS forecast for the year -- a bit high, but easily sustainable.
PMI's revenue rose annually across all of its global regions, except Latin America and Canada, on a constant currency basis last quarter. It offset its 3.6% decline in global cigarette shipments with price increases and the expansion of its iQOS heated tobacco business -- which grew its shipments 37% annually. Its operating margin also expanded as it cut costs.
PMI expects its adjusted EPS to grow 9% this year on a constant currency basis, and it trades at less than 15 times forward earnings. That stable growth rate, low multiple, and high yield should set a floor under PMI's stock if the broader market tumbles.
Bucking the trend in oil
John Bromels (BP): Oil and gas giant BP has long offered one of the highest dividend yields among the oil majors, and earlier this year it managed to wrest the mantle of highest yield in Big Oil from rival Royal Dutch Shell. But after a rare earnings miss in Q2, Shell's share price tumbled, which bumped its dividend yield just high enough to retake the crown from BP, with a 6.57% yield compared with BP's 6.56%.
Of course, the difference of a hundredth of 1% is hardly worth noting. What is worth noting is that BP managed to post an earnings beat in Q2, thanks to higher liquids production, higher sequential refining margins, and lower exploration write-offs than in the prior quarter. BP is also continuing its share buyback program, repurchasing $125 million worth of shares in the first half of 2019, with more likely to come later in the year. These are all things that should make shareholders smile.
In spite of the earnings beat, though, BP's shares are down 3.9% since the announcement, possibly because of management's expectation that upstream production will be lower in Q3 as a result of seasonal turnaround, maintenance activities, and disruption caused by Hurricane Barry. The company also predicted that lower margins would hurt its refining business. However, management maintained its 2019 full-year guidance, indicating these problems shouldn't have too big of an impact on the company's bottom line.
With its juicy yield, a shareholder-friendly management, and recent outperformance compared with its peers, BP is a top pick for investors looking to add some oil and gas exposure to a balanced portfolio.
This big pharma is a big bargain
Keith Speights (AbbVie): You might think that a stock that pays a 6.5% dividend yield would have horrible growth prospects. But that's not the case for AbbVie.
Sure, the company's top-selling drug, Humira, faces competition from biosimilars in Europe. Total sales for Humira slipped 6.1% year over year in the second quarter as a result of this challenge. However, Humira is on track to rank as one of the best-selling drugs in the world at least through 2024. Biosimilars hit the U.S. market beginning in 2023.
In the meantime, AbbVie has plenty of arrows in its quiver to offset the declining sales for Humira. Blood cancer drugs Imbruvica and Venclexta continue to gain impressive momentum. AbbVie expects Orilissa to be a blockbuster in treating endometriosis pain and uterine fibroids. Recently approved psoriasis drug Skyrizi should achieve peak annual sales of at least $3 billion, according to analysts, although AbbVie projects peak sales of $5 billion.
There's an even bigger potential blockbuster waiting in the wings. AbbVie expects FDA approval of rheumatoid arthritis drug upadacitinib within the next couple of months. The drugmaker expects peak sales of $6.5 billion for upadacitinib.
AbbVie also plans to close on its pending acquisition of Allergan (NYSE:AGN) by early 2020. Although there has been some skepticism about the deal, it definitely reduces AbbVie's dependence on Humira and diversifies its product lineup considerably.
The big pharma company's shares currently trade at less than 7 times expected earnings. I expect AbbVie to deliver average annual earnings growth in the mid-single digits. With its attractive dividend and modest earnings growth potential, AbbVie looks like a bargain.