The current S&P 500 index dividend yield is a measly 1.47%. That's pretty skimpy if you rely on dividend income.
Fortunately, you can do a lot better than 1.47%. Here are three dividend stocks that are an income investor's dream.
Verizon has an appealing 4.4% yield, yet it pales in comparison to rival AT&T's (T -1.24%) 7.1%. But Verizon is the more appealing stock for a few reasons. Both Verizon and AT&T are heavyweights whose appeal to investors is stability, rather than rapid growth. But in the past 10 years, Verizon has delivered total returns of 153% versus about 83% for AT&T. Almost all of the returns AT&T shareholders have earned during that period have come from dividends, with the share price up just over 5% in the past decade, compared to 60% for Verizon.
Verizon is also benefiting from its focus on building out its 5G network, whereas AT&T is still feeling the pain of its disastrous acquisition of DIRECTV in 2015. Although Verizon's revenue was down in 2020, it was still profitable. AT&T took a $5.2 billion loss, mainly due to writedowns on its DIRECTV and TimeWarner assets.
Verizon increased its dividend for the 14th consecutive year in 2020. With a healthy payout ratio of 57.8%, it has plenty of cash to continue hiking its dividends.
Real estate investment trusts, or REITS, are beloved by income investors because they're required to pay out 90% of their taxable income. As a result, they're a reliable source of higher-than-average dividend yields. With a 6.03% current yield and an unbroken track record of hiking its dividend every year since going public in 1998, W.P. Carey (WPC -1.97%) is an appealing dividend stock.
Many specialty REITs, particularly those in the hotel, office, and retail spaces, have struggled during the pandemic as tenants closed or fell behind on rent. But in the last nine months of 2020, W.P. Carey collected 98% of contractual rents due.
The REIT has benefited from its diversification: While office and retail space account for 22.5% and 18.1%, respectively, of its annual base rents, warehouse and industrial space (which tend to be recession-resistant) account for nearly half of its portfolio. Warehouse and industrial properties also made up about three-quarters of its 2020 investment volume. Its single largest tenant, Amerco's (UHAL -0.70%) U-Haul, accounts for just 3.3% of revenue. Additionally, 37% of rents come from outside the U.S., primarily from Europe.
Despite its impressive rent-collection record throughout the pandemic, shares of W.P. Carey are down about 20% compared to a year ago, so now could be a great time to scoop up this dividend machine on the cheap.
You may know 3M (MMM -0.46%) as the company behind Scotch tape and Post-it notes, but the bread and butter of this Dividend King is producing technologies that make other products better. For example, the micro-replication technology it developed for projectors in the 1960s is now used to brighten highway signs and cellphone and laptop screens.
With an astounding 55,000 products, 3M is an incredibly diversified business whose products touch virtually every industry you can imagine. While the $100 billion company isn't exactly a growth machine, its 3.3% yield and 62-year history of dividend increases should appeal to income investors.