The chase for higher yields is bringing investors back to some of the market's once unloved stocks. With bond rates and money market yields near historic lows it could be time to consider some of the better-yielding stocks.
Altria (NYSE:MO), CenturyLink (NYSE:LUMN), and China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) are all currently offering yields well above 4%. Each of them has problems, but with each payout fairly secure in the near term, they offer compelling ways to score healthy distributions with the chance at some capital appreciation if things go right. Let's take a closer look at each investment.
It's easy to be dismissive when it comes to Altria. The tobacco giant is the cigarette company behind Marlboro and several other brands, and we know which way that addiction is heading. Altria tried to diversify within the sin-stock universe -- taking ownership stakes in leading vaping and cannabis companies -- but those calls have been bad bets. It also doesn't help that its longtime CEO stepped down earlier this year, shortly after contracting COVID-19.
However, if you're a smoker, you're not likely to quit during this stress-triggering pandemic. Despite all of the negative press and souring consumer sentiment, Altria has managed to rattle off eight consecutive years of positive top-line growth. You might also be surprised to see that Altria has increased its dividend rate 54 times over the past 50 years, making the current yield of 8.8% likely to improve even if the stock itself stands still.
You probably don't want to buy into CenturyLink and tuck it under your pillow for a few years. The long-term prospects for the provider of residential and commercial telecommunications services are pretty grim. However, with the stock now yielding 10%, it's going to turn heads.
This is a fading business, but organic revenue declining between 3.6% and 3.7% in each of the past three quarters is its best showing in more than three years. CenturyLink is also good for the distributions in the near term, largely because it already cut its dividend by more than half last year. Earlier this year it was targeting at least $3.1 billion in free cash flow -- more than enough to cover the $1.1 billion tab for distributions -- but it withdrew its guidance this month. It did confirm its dividend earlier this month, and CenturyLink realizes the importance of keeping the quarterly disbursements coming.
Growth is slowing in China, but the world's largest country is all in when it to comes wireless connectivity. China Mobile has managed to post positive revenue growth in all but one year over the past two decades, and even that dip was a modest 0.5% dip in 2018. China Mobile is huge, serving 950 million wireless customers and 187 million wireline broadband accounts.
There are some obvious risks when it comes to buying into China these days, but the current 6.3% yield makes it one of the steadier players in the region. The top-line growth may not be much these days. You have to all the way back to 2012 to find the last time that China Mobile generated double-digit revenue growth. However, with the 5G migration already under way in China things should pick up when the economy gets back on track.
Altria, CenturyLink, and China Mobile have their flaws. You're not getting yields this high without a few scars. However, these are some of the best dividend stocks yielding well above 4% right now.