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3 Stocks for a Better Retirement

By James Brumley - Mar 25, 2021 at 7:45AM

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These three names collectively bring a balanced mix of income, growth, and relatively stability to the table.

If your working years are behind you (or at least on the horizon) and you've not yet rethought your stock portfolio, it's time. A little less speculative growth and a little more certainty is in order.

That's not to suggest that using nothing but reliable dividend-paying names is the right solution. While a few such stocks probably make sense for most investors, the average retirement lasts a couple of decades. You'll likely need some growth, too. It just has to be growth that you can reasonably count on.

With that as the backdrop, here's a rundown of three different stocks that, when part of a diversified portfolio, offer a well-balanced mix of growth, income, and safety.

Retired couple taking a relaxing nap.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Alphabet

Broadly speaking, the market treats Google parent Alphabet (GOOG -1.29%) (GOOGL -1.34%) like a tech stock. And in many regards, that's not an unreasonable categorization. It relies on technology to power its business, whether that's as a cloud computing platform, a search engine, or the world's busiest online video venue (that's YouTube).

By and large, however, Alphabet isn't subject to seeing its technologies made obsolete because it's mostly a consumer services outfit designed to generated digital ad revenue. Its Google website facilitates 92% of the world's web searches, according to StatCounter, and its Android operating system is installed on 72% of the planet's actively used mobile devices.

As long as we keep on connecting to the internet with smartphones, Alphabet's place as a tollbooth means it keeps on collecting more and more revenue.

The company's got the history to prove it, too. In only two quarters since 2006 has Alphabet not reported higher year-over-year revenue, and one of those two quarters was the second quarter of last year when COVID-19 disrupted everything. Operating profits have grown even more impressively even if less consistently, soaring 20% in 2021 to a record-breaking $41.2 billion. YouTube was a key contributor to that growth. Now that the company is taking it so seriously, YouTube's ad sales improved 30% in 2020, to $19.8 billion. That's only about 13% of Alphabet's ad business, but it's the fastest-growing component.

Alphabet may not be a big income-driving stock, but its growth is built to last.

2. JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase (JPM -0.82%) may be a respected name, but the banking business isn't necessarily a high-growth area. The dividend yield of 2.3% isn't exactly a thriller, either.

But there's more to this financial stock than meets the eye.

For starters, it's more than just a conventional bank. Only about half of its annual revenue is rooted in banking activities like lending and deposits, which ebb and flow with prevailing interest rates. The other half -- categorized as noninterest revenue -- comes from activities like investment underwriting and asset/wealth management. These are business lines with cycles largely unlinked to interest rate fluctuations.

This mix of business is the key reason JPMorgan Chase is able to drive strong long-term sales growth even if it hits the occasional quarterly stumbling block. While the coronavirus pandemic was trouble for the big bank last year, 2019's top line of $44.5 billion was 66% better than revenue of $26.8 billion in 2011 (the year the world finally, fully shook off the subprime mortgage meltdown).

The other well-kept secret about JPMorgan Chase is its dividend. As was noted, the current trailing yield leaves a little to be desired. But, the company's increased its payout every year since 2011, upping it at an annualized pace of 16.5% for the past five years.

It's not recession-proof, but if you can deal with diminished dividend payments when times are tough, JPMorgan is worth the wait.

3. Verizon

Finally, add Verizon Communications (VZ 0.88%) to your list of stocks to consider whether you're in retirement or are still building your nest egg.

Income is the big draw here. Newcomers are stepping in at an above-average yield of 4.5%, and though the telecom name can't keep up with JPMorgan's pace of improving payouts, Verizon's doing just fine on this front. Its trailing four-quarter payout of $2.50 per share is 11% higher than the company's dividend from five years back. Verizon's also upped its dividend every year since 2007. It's still 12 years away from becoming a Dividend Aristocrat, but it's certainly on the right path.

More important than its dividend pedigree, however, is the fact that Verizon is building itself into a company capable of continuing to fund and grow its dividend.

The key is the advent of 5G networking. All telecom service providers are addressing the market, but perhaps none as effectively as Verizon can. Years of expensive investments in its fiber-optic network seemed misguided at the time, but now that 5G is here and the bandwidth and spectrum (radio frequencies needed to connect mobile devices to towers) are in short supply, Verizon is able to offload much of that data load to its fiber-optic network.

That investment is starting to pay off, too. In its first-ever such assessment, performed in the latter half of last year, RootMetrics ranked Verizon's 5G network as the best for all seven metrics being measured.

As long as consumers and companies need high-speed wireless connectivity, Verizon's superior infrastructure leaves it positioned to capitalize on that demand.

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Stocks Mentioned

Verizon Communications Inc. Stock Quote
Verizon Communications Inc.
VZ
$49.53 (0.88%) $0.43
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Stock Quote
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPM
$117.34 (-0.82%) $0.97
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOGL
$2,178.16 (-1.34%) $-29.52
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOG
$2,186.26 (-1.29%) $-28.65

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

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