In a world of low interest rates, investors have had to become creative to find yield. One of the places they've found cash returns is in dividend stocks, particularly those that offer a relatively high payout. However, the higher the yield, the more risk investors face.

Fortunately, some high-yield dividend stocks remain well-positioned to sustain their dividends. The stocks below offer generous cash returns supported by growing businesses. The following companies should earn rising profits and bring further payout hikes over time. 

Stacks of coins in ascending order with letter dice spelling Y-I-E-L-D.

Image source: Getty Images.

AbbVie

AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) spent most of its history as a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories before becoming an independent company in 2013. Consequently, it also benefits from a Dividend Aristocrat status that it gained from Abbott.

Its annual dividend, which now stands at $4.72 per share, yields about 4.8% as of Thursday's close. Moreover, this payout appears stable. Thanks to a dividend payout ratio just under 60%, the company looks positioned to sustain annual increases while having plenty of profit left over to invest in its drug pipeline.

The pipeline remains a significant concern. AbbVie stock benefited from a five-year bull run in most of the last decade. However, it spent 2018 and most of 2019 in decline as investors worried about where the company would find revenue as the patents on its blockbuster drug Humira began to expire across the world.

ABBV Chart

ABBV data by YCharts

AbbVie's prospects improved as it addressed that concern. The drugmaker's hematologic drugs Imbruvica and Venclexta have seen massive increases in revenue over the last year. Moreover, its takeover of Allergan should increase its offerings. Furthermore, with a forward P/E ratio just under 10, investors can buy this cash stream at a reasonable valuation.

AT&T

AT&T (NYSE:T) has struggled for years amid intense competition and costly buildouts. Also, its phone line and pay-TV businesses have fallen victim to changing technology. This has caused the company's stock to suffer. It sells at a forward P/E ratio of around 9.4 (as of Thursday's close) and trades at a price it first reached in the '90s!

T Chart

T data by YCharts

The reticence about AT&T's stock is understandable. Its purchase of DirecTV and what is now WarnerMedia left the company with a long-term debt of $147.202 billion as of the last quarter.

However, the years of stagnation along with a Dividend Aristocrat status have taken the annual dividend to $2.08 per share, a yield of approximately 7%. Also, the dividend payout ratio measured against quarterly income amounts to almost 82%. While that may appear elevated, forecasts point to improving profits, which may significantly reduce that ratio. 

Moreover, one of its costly investments could pay off for the company. Over the last few years, it has spent tens of billions on building a nationwide 5G network. As consumers move to 5G technology, AT&T will become only one of three providers of 5G service. This increases the likelihood of rising profits and increasing payouts for years to come.

Innovative Industrial Properties

Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that provides properties in the U.S. designed to facilitate the growth of cannabis. Since it doesn't produce or sell marijuana directly, it's not subject to the regulations affecting most of the industry.

Also, as a REIT, it must pay a dividend out of its net income to maintain that status. The current annual payout of $4.24 per share yields around 4.5%. This payout has increased every year since 2017.

Moreover, the company will more than likely have to raise dividends. In the most recent quarter, net income increased by 249% year over year, and revenue rose by 210%. Such increases have helped to fuel stock-price growth over the last few years.

IIPR Chart

IIPR data by YCharts

The growth trend should continue for the foreseeable future. According to Grandview Research, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the marijuana industry is 18.1% globally. Also, with hemp legal in all 50 states, Innovative Industrial can operate anywhere in the country.

Moreover, in the previous quarter, it reported $1.12 per share in funds from operations (FFO).This would give the REIT a price-to-FFO ratio of about 21.1, assuming stable FFO income. Hence, the company offers a low-cost multiple considering its growth. This should continue to fuel both Innovative Industrial and its dividend for the foreseeable future.

IBM

International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) recently hiked its dividend for the 25th straight year, making it the newest Dividend Aristocrat. Its current annual payout of $6.52 per share gives this stock a yield of 5.4%. Still, despite this generous payout, IBM stock still trades at a forward P/E ratio of just under 11.

Years of stagnating revenue and profits may help explain this low multiple. As of the time of this writing, IBM sells for almost 45% less than its peak in 2013.

IBM Chart

IBM data by YCharts.

However, IBM bulls have a reason for optimism. The company appointed the leader of its cloud division, Arvind Krishna, as its new CEO in April. In Krishna's last quarter as the head of cloud computing, cloud revenue increased by 19% year over year. This occurred as overall revenue dropped by 3.4% from the same quarter last year. Both these results and Krishna's focus point to IBM becoming more of a cloud company.

Also, IBM's dividend payout ratio stands at about 64%. Though the dividend is not in trouble for now, this ratio indicates that IBM will need income growth to maintain payout hikes.

Nonetheless, with a more cloud-oriented focus, IBM can probably continue its dividend increases. Moreover, it could also inspire some long-awaited growth in the IBM stock price.

Prudential Financial

Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU) provides wealth management and retirement products for individuals and institutions alike. The company has consistently increased its annual payout since 2008, topping $4 this year, and should have no trouble maintaining it. Even though its yield is over 7% today, its payout ratio is a manageable 57%.

However, the risk with this stock may come from the stock price. It's fallen by more than 30% over the last five years, with the coronavirus pandemic causing most of this drop. As a result, the forward P/E ratio now stands at around 6.4.

PRU Chart

PRU data by YCharts

Despite Prudential's low P/E, investors shouldn't rely on significant multiple expansion for gains. However, earnings increased by an average of almost 7.1% per year over the last five years. Even though profit growth turned negative in the most recent earnings report, both Prudential's dividend and its stock price should register growth as the economy recovers.