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3 Top Dividend Stocks to Buy Right Now

By David Jagielski – Aug 9, 2020 at 6:55AM

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Down more than 4% this year, it could be a great time to buy these income stocks before they rally -- which could happen soon.

Are you looking for a way to add stability to your portfolio amid the COVID-19 pandemic? Dividend stocks can help you do that, as they provide investors with recurring cash flow and can pad your overall returns (or offset losses). Companies that pay dividends are normally past their high-growth stages, and that's why they often make for more stable investments.

While not all dividend stocks are safe buys amid the unprecedented market conditions, the three listed below remain strong investments for the long term. They provide investors with above-average dividend yields, and their businesses look poised for some stronger results later this year. If you're interested in income, consider adding these three stocks to your portfolio today.

1. Bristol Myers Squibb

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY -1.17%) is a top biopharmaceutical company that develops drugs for patients with serious diseases, including cancer. The New York-based company released its second-quarter results on Aug. 6, and it reported sales of $10.1 billion. Revenue increased by 61% from the prior-year period, which was primarily due to its acquisition of Celgene which closed in November 2019.

But despite the boost in sales, the company estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic weighed down its top line by $600 million, in part due to patients not visiting the doctor as often. Bristol Myers incurred a loss of $85 million for the quarter, largely due to a hefty tax bill of $1.7 billion which the company says was due to "an internal transfer of certain intangible assets" and purchase price adjustments.

Wallet full of cash.

Image source: Getty Images.

While the recent performance may be a bit disappointing, these results are due to issues that shouldn't persist over the long term, which is why Bristol Myers remains a good long-term investment. 

The company's been paying dividends since the 1970s, and shareholders currently receive a quarterly payment of $0.45 per share. Investors who buy the stock today will be earning an annual yield of 3%, which is above the 2% you can expect to earn from the average S&P 500 stock. 

The cancer-fighting company is more diverse and stronger now that it includes Celgene's products and pipeline, making it a great dividend stock to hang on to for the long haul.

2. Starbucks

Starbucks (SBUX -1.55%) is another stable dividend stock that investors can hold for many years. The Washington-based company released its third-quarter results on July 28. Sales were down 38% year over year, and Starbucks reported a quarterly loss of $678 million compared to a profit of $1.4 billion in the same period last year.

But the positive takeaway from this is that most of its coffee shops are open again, meaning that the worst may be behind Starbucks. It's been a challenging time for many companies, but the coffee shop chain is in a good position to adapt to social distancing and can easily serve customers via drive-thru. It's also adding curbside pickup to several hundred locations. The coffee company says it will add more than 50 Starbucks Pickup locations over the next year and a half.

The stability and popularity of the company, along with its ability to adapt to the pandemic, makes it a great investment to hold in your portfolio. Currently, Starbucks pays a quarterly dividend of $0.41, which annually yields about 2.2%. 

3. Comcast

Comcast (CMCSA -3.26%) is another well-known brand that pays a solid dividend. The Pennsylvania-based company released its second-quarter results on July 30, which showed it too was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales of $23.7 billion were down 11.7% from the prior-year period, and net income declined by 4.4%. Those aren't bad results in light of the recession and pandemic, especially with Comcast reporting positive free cash flow of $6 billion, a 40.5% improvement from the same period a year ago.

The company did fairly well during a tough period, and it's proving to be a good buy for investors who want a safe stock to hold. And with 10 million people already signed up for NBCUniversal's new Peacock streaming service, which first launched in April, the company has a new and exciting product that can deliver more growth and cater to people who are staying home.

In addition, the company agreed to a deal with theater chain AMC Entertainment where new movies from Universal will be available for consumers to watch after just 17 days. Previously, it was a 90-day window where movies would first show at AMC theaters. It's yet another way Comcast can add value and bring more content to consumers who are staying at home.

Comcast currently pays its shareholders a quarterly dividend of $0.23, which yields 2.1% annually. With a versatile business and one that could generate strong growth in the quarters ahead, Comcast is another appealing dividend stock to hold in your portfolio.

Which stock should you buy today?

Let's take a look at which stock is the best of the three. Here's how all the stocks are doing against the S&P 500 this year:

BMY Chart

BMY data by YCharts

None of them are outperforming the S&P 500, and Starbucks' stock is down the most in 2020. But all three companies should produce better results later this year, and those negative return numbers could soon turn positive.

While all of the above stocks are good options for dividend investors, I'd give the edge to Starbucks for the simplicity and consistency that it offers. Even amid a pandemic and a recession, people are still going to go out and get their favorite coffee. With its stores opening back up, the company looks to be in great shape to rebound and leave its horrible Q3 results in the past.

David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Bristol Myers Squibb and Starbucks. The Motley Fool recommends Comcast. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Bristol Myers Squibb Company Stock Quote
Bristol Myers Squibb Company
BMY
$71.22 (-1.17%) $0.84
Starbucks Corporation Stock Quote
Starbucks Corporation
SBUX
$85.76 (-1.55%) $-1.35
Comcast Corporation Stock Quote
Comcast Corporation
CMCSA
$30.14 (-3.26%) $-1.01
AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. Stock Quote
AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc.
AMC
$6.91 (-9.97%) $0.77

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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