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3 High-Yield Dividend Stocks Begging to Be Bought

By Sean Williams – Updated Sep 17, 2020 at 1:10PM

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What investor doesn't love guaranteed income and dirt cheap valuations?

Although growth stocks have dominated the investment landscape in 2020, it's dividend stocks that have a history of outperforming.

Back in 2013, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch released a report examining the performance of publicly traded companies that initiated and grew their dividend between 1972 and 2012. Bank of America then compared this to the performance of non-dividend-paying stocks over the same period. The comparison was night and day, with dividend stocks gaining an average 9.5% annually over this 40-year stretch, and non-dividend stocks gaining only 1.6%, on average over the same time frame.

The biggest issue with dividend investing is that we want to be greedy. We want the highest yield possible with the least risk imaginable. Unfortunately, yield and risk are often correlated, which means high-yield stocks (those with yields north of 4%) often come with risks that aren't always visible until you dig into a company's income statements and operating model.

After doing some digging, I've come up with three high-yield dividend stocks that are dirt cheap and absolutely begging to be bought by patient income-seeking investors.

A messy stack of one hundred dollar bills.

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AT&T: 7.14% yield

When it comes to investing, sometimes boring is beautiful -- and that's exactly what you're going to get if you buy shares of telecom giant AT&T (T -2.12%).

AT&T's growth heyday is long gone. But don't assume that just because AT&T is a mature company, its needle is no longer pointing higher. Over the next few years, AT&T will roll out 5G network infrastructure upgrades across the country. These pricey investments should yield substantial organic growth opportunities. After all, the company's wireless segment generates its juiciest margins from data consumption. The tech upgrade cycle associated with the first major improvement in wireless speeds in a decade could produce a sustainable five-year organic growth spurt for AT&T.

This is also a company with aggressive streaming ambitions. In late May, AT&T launched HBO Max, with the company grabbing 4.1 million subscribers during its first month. Between HBO Max and HBO, AT&T claimed 36.3 million subscribers as of the end of the second quarter. By 2025, the company sees this combined figure more than doubling to 80 million

As one last note, AT&T is considering the sale of its DIRECTV subsidiary, and management has been working diligently to sell noncore assets in order to reduce debt. Investors should consider AT&T's 7.1% yield rock-solid and its forward P/E of 9 an outright steal.

A bank manager shaking hands with clients in an office.

Image source: Getty Images.

U.S. Bancorp: 4.43% yield

Investors can often find plump dividend payouts in the banking industry. Though the recession is going to hamper capital return growth prospects for bank stocks for the foreseeable future, this shouldn't stop investors from gobbling up shares of regional bank U.S. Bancorp (USB -2.52%).

As you might have noticed, I beat the drum on U.S. Bancorp a lot, and there's a good reason for that. It's a really well-managed bank. It's consistently at or near the top among big banks in terms of return on assets, and its management team has avoided riskier investment tools that have brought down banks during previous recessions. It may sound boring (remember, boring is beautiful), but U.S. Bancorp's ongoing focus on loan and deposit growth keeps the profit engine moving forward.

We're also talking about a bank that's done a bang-up job of improving digital engagement with its customers. In the banking world, digital transactions cost a fraction of in-person visits. Over the trailing two years ended May 31, U.S. Bancorp's total loan sales transacted either online or through mobile nearly doubled to 46% from 25%. Further, 77% of its customers are now transacting digitally to some degree.  This digital push should allow U.S. Bancorp to close branches and substantially reduce its noninterest expenses.

Investors can currently buy U.S. Bancorp for roughly 24% above its book value. That might not sound like a bargain, but it's the cheapest this stock has been in over a decade. You'll get a 4.4% yield to boot.

Two businesspeople shaking hands, with one holding a miniature house in his left hand.

Image source: Getty Images.

Annaly Capital Management: 11.59% yield

Few industries have been as disliked by Wall Street as mortgage real estate investment trusts (REITs) -- but I suspect that sentiment will soon change. That's why you're going to want to consider adding the 11.6%-yielding Annaly Capital Management (NLY -8.85%) to your income portfolio.

Without getting too far into the weeds, the goal for mortgage REITs like Annaly is to borrow at lower short-term rates and use that leverage to buy higher-yielding fixed-rate assets that'll pay out for a long time. In this instance, I'm talking about buying mortgage-backed securities (MBS).

When the yield curve inverted last year and short-term yields were higher than long-term yields, it was something of a nightmare for Annaly and its peers. But history has shown that the gap in yield between short- and long-term bond yields tends to widen considerably over time following a recession. This would suggest that Annaly's net interest margin is only going to expand in the years that lie ahead.

Furthermore, Annaly Capital Management has 93% of its total assets tied up in agency-backed products. This is to say that the MBSs Annaly's offerings are protected against default by a federal agency. The downside of investing in agency-only assets is that they tend to have lower yields than non-agency MBSs. On the bright side, they're safer and more conducive to using leverage. This means investors can sleep easy with the knowledge that their double-digit yield is, in all likelihood, very safe. 

Sean Williams owns shares of AT&T and Bank of America. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

AT&T Inc. Stock Quote
AT&T Inc.
$15.67 (-2.12%) $0.34
Annaly Capital Management, Inc. Stock Quote
Annaly Capital Management, Inc.
$20.60 (-8.85%) $-2.00
U.S. Bancorp Stock Quote
U.S. Bancorp
$41.06 (-2.52%) $-1.06

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