Historically, it hasn't mattered whether a Democrat or Republican has been president: Stock market investors do quite well with either party in office, as long as they're focused on the long term.
However, it's hard to ignore the near-perfect scenario that President Joe Biden and his administration have walked into. Although Biden will be tackling a number of key issues, including the coronavirus vaccination campaign, the combination of historically low lending rates, dovish monetary policy, and ongoing fiscal stimulus from Capitol Hill could create an epic bull market.
While growth stocks have been investors' go-to choice for more than a decade, dividend stocks are the market's brightest spot over the very long term. Since the vast majority of dividend stocks are profitable on a recurring basis and have time-tested operating models, they're good candidates to outperform.
If a Biden bull market does take shape, the following five high-yield dividend stocks (yields of 4%, or greater) would be perfect additions to your portfolio.
Annaly Capital Management: 10.6% dividend yield
It may not be the flashiest name of the bunch, but mortgage real estate investment trust (REIT) Annaly Capital Management (NYSE:NLY) is about to enter the sweet spot of a multiyear growth trend, assuming the Biden administration is successful in buoying the U.S. economy.
Without getting too technical, a mortgage REIT like Annaly borrows money at lower short-term rates and acquires assets with higher long-term yields, such as mortgage-backed securities (MBSs). The difference between the yield it receives and what it owes is known as net interest margin (NIM). During the first couple of years of an economic recovery, it's commonplace to see the yield curve steepen. This is to say that longer-term yields rise notably, while short-term yields flatten out or even decline. When this happens, mortgage REITs like Annaly usually see their NIM expand significantly.
The other noteworthy consideration here is that Annaly almost exclusively deals with agency-only MBSs and securities. Agency assets are backed by a federal agency in the event of default. Having this protection means lower yields relative to nonagency assets. But it also allows Annaly to use leverage to its advantage when the market conditions are right. With the yield curve steepening, Annaly is expected to use leverage to really pump up its income potential (and dividend).
Duke Energy: 4.4% dividend yield
After watching growth stocks run rampant for more than a decade, the idea of buying an electric utility stock is enough to put some investors to sleep. But Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), the nation's second-largest electric utility operator, could be an excellent buy with Biden in the White House.
You see, the Biden administration is looking to tackle climate change head on. One of the many ways it could do so is by encouraging utilities to make the switch to renewable energy sources via regulation or tax credits. Either way, it's good news for Duke Energy.
Duke plans to spend up to $60 billion through 2025 to invest in renewable energy projects and support its regulated operations. This is a fancy way of saying that Duke aims to get ahead of the curve on switching to green energy sources, and it should benefit from a higher annual growth rate once this transformation really takes shape.
What's more, the utility sector offers highly predictable demand and cash flow. Duke's traditional operations (i.e., those run on fossil fuels) are regulated. Though it can't just raise prices anytime it wants, it also means Duke isn't exposed to potentially volatile wholesale prices. In other words, it's a very safe bet for steady growth.
Altria Group: 7.7% dividend yield
Like utilities, tobacco stocks have seen their growth heyday come and go. But the future could still have some smokin' good returns in store for Altria Group (NYSE:MO) shareholders during a Biden bull market.
Altria, the company behind the extremely popular Marlboro cigarette brand in the U.S., has been hit by lower adult smoking rates for decades. But what it lacks in volume, the company has been able to make up for with price hikes. Since tobacco contains nicotine, an addictive chemical, Altria has been able to pass along higher price points for its products without hurting demand from existing customers.
It has plenty of opportunity to expand its reach beyond tobacco, as well. It has a licensing agreement in place with Philip Morris International to market the IQOS heated tobacco system in a number of U.S. markets. Also, in March 2019, Altria completed a $1.8 billion equity investment into Canadian marijuana stock Cronos Group. If the Biden administration were to legalize weed in the U.S., Altria would be expected to play a leading role in helping Cronos develop, market, and distribute cannabis vapes throughout North America.
AbbVie: 4.8% dividend yield
The biggest knock against AbbVie has always been that it's too reliant on the anti-inflammatory drug Humira. Last year, Humira brought in just over $19.8 billion of the $45.8 billion AbbVie recognized in net sales. Yet, in spite of biosimilar competition in overseas markets, sales in the highly lucrative U.S. market continue to climb. Multiple label-expansion opportunities, coupled with annual price hikes, have helped Humira become the top-selling drug in the world. Even when biosimilar drugs hit U.S. pharmacy shelves in 2023, it's unlikely that Humira's sales fall off a cliff. This is to say that AbbVie can sustainably deliver well over $10 billion in annual operating cash flow, even with Humira fending off biosimilar competition in two more years.
It's also very unlikely that lawmakers will tackle drug-price reform. It's been a Capitol Hill talking point for more than a decade, but there's never the requisite support in the Senate to enact meaningful change. For AbbVie, this suggests its immunology and oncology product portfolios will continue to benefit from label expansion opportunities, increased duration of use, and higher list prices.
IBM: 5.4% dividend yield
Finally, don't sleep on tech laggard IBM (NYSE:IBM). Though its sales have been backpedaling for the better part of a decade, an ongoing business transformation should begin to bear fruit in 2021, and beyond.
The front-and-center concern for IBM is that it waited too long to begin transitioning away from hardware and software and into cloud computing. Despite efforts to emphasize cloud services, revenue declines in legacy operations have overshadowed its higher-growth segments. But during the fourth quarter, IBM's cloud sales inched to yet another new high (approximately 37% of total sales). With cloud sales rising 19% for the full year in 2020 and 10% in the fourth quarter, it's only a matter of time before this higher-margin, higher-growth segment overshadows legacy weakness.
It's worth pointing out that IBM's legacy operations aren't performing as poorly as you might think. Tactical cost-cutting has actually improved margins in these segments as sales have retraced. IBM has been able to use its tens of billions in annual cash flow to make bolt-on acquisitions in the cloud space, as well as return capital to shareholders via dividends and buybacks. This trend should continue in a Biden bull market.