When you think of cannabis stocks, the idea of receiving dividends probably doesn't come to mind. After all, many cannabis companies aren't generating profits yet. Paying dividends isn't even on their radar screens.
However, there are a handful of companies with close ties to the cannabis industry that do offer dividends. Here are three cannabis stocks with the highest dividend yields of all.
1. Altria Group
Altria Group (NYSE:MO) ranks as one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world. However, it is a major player in the Canadian cannabis industry as well thanks to its 45% ownership of Cronos Group. Altria invested $1.8 billion in Cronos early last year to expand into the high-growth cannabis opportunity.
Altria has been a sought-after dividend stock for a long time. Its dividend yield currently stands at 8.1%. The company has increased its dividend for a remarkable 50 consecutive years (factoring in spin-offs during that period) and is likely to keep its streak going.
However, the company faces some significant issues. There's a lot of uncertainty about e-cigarette regulation. Altria is under investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) for alleged infringement of patents related to heated tobacco product technology. The company's investment in Cronos also hasn't paid off as the cannabis producer continues to lose money.
2. Imperial Brands
Imperial Brands (OTC:IMBB.Y) is another tobacco company with cannabis connections that pays an attractive dividend. The company invested in British medical marijuana research company Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies in 2018. Last year, the company bought a minority stake in Canadian cannabis company Auxly Cannabis.
Those cannabis investments haven't made money for Imperial Brands so far. However, the company's core tobacco business has enabled it to keep the dividends flowing. Imperial's dividend currently yields nearly 5.4%.
Imperial Brands' dividend program is being pressured, though. The company cut its dividend by one-third. Imperial's earnings have fallen. Like Altria, it faces uncertainty about e-cigarettes. In addition, the company expects some headwinds related to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with its duty-free and travel retail business.
3. Innovative Industrial Properties
Not every high-yield stock on our list has tobacco ties. Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR) focuses exclusively on the medical cannabis industry. The real estate investment trust (REIT) buys properties and leases them to medical cannabis operators.
As a REIT, IIP must return at least 90% of its taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends. Thanks to tremendous earnings growth, the company's dividend has skyrocketed more than 600% over last three years. IIP's dividend yield now stands at 4.3%.
Keeping up those winning ways shouldn't be a big problem. IIP continues to grow through sale-leaseback deals, recently adding its 57th property in a deal with Holistic Industries. The company also increased its dividend yet again last week, boosting its payout by 6% from the previous quarter.
If you're solely interested in income, you might think that Altria is the best pick because of its high dividend yield. However, my view that Innovative Industrial Properties is actually the most attractive of these three stocks.
IIP is poised to deliver much stronger earnings growth than either Altria or Imperial Brands. That should translate to much faster dividend growth than either of the tobacco companies. I think that the combination of IIP's growth and its dividend will provide sizzling total returns for investors over the next few years.