If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. In today's low-interest-rate environment, stocks with high yields could very well fall into that camp, yield traps that end up consuming rather that creating wealth for their owners.

Still, it is possible to find companies that pay dividends whose shares happen to be available at a reasonable or even a bargain price. Those companies have the potential to provide both decent income and total returns as the market recognizes their true value over time. That combination is worth looking for, and if you can find it, it's certainly worth looking to buy. With that in mind, these three dividend stocks look like they just might be available on sale and worth considering as a buy.

Risk and reward dials

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1. An insurer that focuses on employee benefits

Unemployment spiked during the coronavirus pandemic. Even as vaccinations are becoming more common, jobs haven't yet recovered to their pre-pandemic levels. That combination has weighed heavily on insurance company Unum Group (UNM 0.33%), whose shares are available at around half the company's book value.

Unum Group offers insurance as a part of employee benefits,  which makes its fortunes at least somewhat tied to the state of the job market. At least in part because of unemployment uncertainty, the company is not expected to grow all that fast over the next few years. That's weighing on the company's share price and is a big part of the reason its stock is trading so cheaply.

From an investor's perspective, that low price allows it to offer its shareholders a dividend yield of around 4.1%, even though that dividend consumes a mere 30% of the company's earnings. As a result, investors are getting paid decently to wait for more favorable conditions to return, while owning shares that are priced as though that future will not come for a long time. There are no guarantees in the market, but the risk/reward trade off looks like it could be favorable for patient Unum Group investors.

2. A pipeline giant that may have overpromised a bit

Pipelines and oil rigs

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Energy pipeline giant Kinder Morgan (KMI -0.12%) slashed its dividend in late 2015, driven by a threatened debt rating downgrade that would have knocked its bonds to junk status . While that move protected its ability to access the credit market and enabled it to rebuild its balance sheet, it did scare away many income seeking investors. As often happens, the dividend cut knocked its shares down, and they still haven't recovered their past glory.

Kinder Morgan did commit to increasing its dividend once its balance sheet got cleaned up, but even then, it hasn't exactly lived up to its projections on that front. While the slower than expected dividend recovery has left income investors frustrated, it has also left its shares priced at a level where they look like a potential bargain.

At a $35.7 billion market capitalization on nearly $4.6 billion in trailing operating cash flows, Kinder Morgan trades at around eight times its cash generating ability. When combined with a yield of around 6.6%, you get a solid income on a valuation that doesn't project much growth, if any at all.

Kinder Morgan's balance sheet is healthier today than it was when it was forced to cut its dividend. As a result, today's investors are arguably getting a more solid business at a cheaper price than they were before it ran into those issues. It may not have been able to restore its dividend as quickly as it had hoped, but the market's negative reaction to its new reality has made its shares worth considering.

3. A hard-money lender that owes no debt of its own

Digger at a construction site.

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One of the big challenges associated with investing in companies that lend out money is that they themselves tend to have debts of their own to pay. Debts bring with them obligations, including the obligation to make sufficient and on time payments. In addition, they also have additional strings attached in the form of covenants that limit how the borrower can act. 

That means that when a lender itself owes money, there's a good chance there's only so much it can do to enable flexibility with its borrowers when the lending market dries up. It's also why Broadmark Realty Capital (BRMK) is such a compelling potential investment. A hard-money, construction-focused lender, Broadmark Realty has absolutely no debt of its own on its balance sheet. That gives it incredible flexibility when times get tight, since it doesn't have to answer to lenders of its own.

Of course, construction is an economically sensitive business, and when times get tight, progress can stall. That could leave Broadmark in a situation where it may find itself with unfinished construction projects and limited cash flows on its hands. The way it manages that is by insisting on no more than a 65% loan to value ratio on the properties it lends on, which gives it a buffer if it does have to take possession of a property.

Despite those precautions, the market sees risk in its business, which is why its shares offer a yield of around 7.9%. Its dividend gets paid monthly, and as it is structured as a REIT, it has to pay out at least 90% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. That provides reason to believe that as long as its business remains profitable, its investors should expect to receive a dividend.

Decent income for low-interest-rate times

Unum Group, Kinder Morgan, and Broadmark Realty Capital all offer investors decent levels of income given the current interest-rate environment. This is only possible because they are dividend stocks where the market senses risk in their operations. While the market is right to be cautious, it's that caution that provides the potential opportunity for patient investors.

Their underlying businesses remain solid despite the near term risks they face. As a result, an investment today could provide shareholders with both income today and the possibility for growth as things stabilize. That's what makes them dividend stocks worth considering buying now.