When investing in dividend stocks, it's always tempting to go for a high yield. And while there are risks in doing so, you can offset those by investing in top companies that have strong track records and strong businesses.
The three stocks listed below can offer investors the best of both worlds -- stability and high dividend payments.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -0.17%) is a stable, safe stock for investors who are looking to cash in on its dividend. With the stock up just 9% over the past 12 months, investors would be better off holding the S&P 500, which produced returns of 23% over the same time frame. The company released its year-end 2019 results on Feb. 5, and although it generated positive growth and its adjusted earnings per share (EPS) was up 1% on a constant exchange rate basis, GlaxoSmithKline expects that in 2020 it will decline between 1% and 4%.
However, that's not a big problem for dividend investors given that the company has had no trouble staying in the black with a strong profit margin of 14.6% in its most recent quarter.
Its strong financials give the company the ability to continue paying its impressive dividend, which investors can expect to generate roughly $2.40 per share a year, for a yield of around 5.4%. Although the company isn't raising its dividend for 2020, investors may still see some fluctuations in their payouts as a result of changes in foreign exchange.
AT&T (T 0.05%) is another high-yielding stock investors can add to their portfolios. Foreign exchange won't impact its dividend payments, which currently provide shareholders with $0.52 every quarter for a yield of 5.4% annually. The company has increased its dividend for more than 30 consecutive years, with the Dividend Aristocrat's most recent rate hike being a modest increase of 2%.
The telecom giant is coming off a strong 2019 where it recorded sales of $181.2 billion and profits of $13.9 billion. It's not a bad result, especially given HBO Max cost the company $1.2 billion in forgone revenue. However, over the long term, HBO Max could more than pay off for AT&T as the company looks to be a dominant player when it comes to streaming services. AT&T still managed to generate more than $29.2 billion in free cash flow during the year, easily enough to cover its dividend payments of $14.9 billion.
It's a safe investment, and with it trading at a forward price-to-earnings multiple of just 10, investors aren't paying a big premium to own shares of this blue-chip stock. AT&T stock is up more than 28% over the past year.
3. Philip Morris
Phillip Morris International (PM -0.66%) also recently released its year-end results, posting them on Feb. 6. Although the company is battling headwinds as consumers move away from smoking, its net revenue for the year was still up a modest 0.6% and 6.4% when excluding the impact of foreign exchange. Adjusted diluted EPS of $5.19 also increased by 1.8% and 9.9% when factoring out foreign exchange. There are still some good opportunities for Phillip Morris to grow over the long term as its IQOS products, which heat rather than burn tobacco, provide a way for people to move away from smoking cigarettes. The company says that 9.7 million users have switched from smoking tobacco to using IQOS.
But even if the company stands pat and doesn't generate much growth, it's still stable, and with a dividend of 5.3%, it could be attractive to dividend investors. Currently, the company pays its shareholders a quarterly dividend of $1.17, and it has increased its payments on an annual basis. Although it hasn't been around long enough to qualify as an Aristocrat, the dividend's proven to be stable and consistent over the years.
Phillip Morris currently trades at a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 15, and the stock is up 10% over the past 12 months.
Which dividend should you buy today?
There's not a lot separating these three companies in terms of dividend yield, and they're all better than the average S&P 500 yield of 2%. That means you can be extra picky if you're looking for just one of these stocks to buy today.
The deciding factor likely comes down to growth. Phillip Morris has too many question marks surrounding its future growth and GlaxoSmithKline also isn't overly optimistic in its forecast. That leaves AT&T as the best stock of three when considering both dividends and growth.