I finally moved on from AT&T (NYSE:T) last month. I had owned the popular wireless carrier since 2018, but AT&T moving on from WarnerMedia while warning that it would be dramatically reducing its dividend was a one-two punch I couldn't ignore.
If AT&T is no longer a media empire or a Dividend Aristocrat is it really worth still owning? It may become attractive over time, but right now Verizon Communications, (NYSE:VZ), Target (NYSE:TGT), and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (NYSE:SKT) are better dividend stocks. Let's kick those tires.
1. Verizon: 4.5% yield
Verizon's 4.5% trailing yield may pale in comparison to the 7.2% that AT&T has paid out over the past year, but that's about to change. AT&T will slash its payout by nearly half after its WarnerMedia deal is complete. Meanwhile we have Verizon likely increasing its quarterly dividend in two months the way it has for the past 14 years.
Verizon isn't perfect. It sees top-line growth increasing just 2% in 2021. It also has some big investments to make as it cashes in on the 5G revolution. However, there is an opportunity to gain market share on AT&T if its rival loses focus during the transition process. Verizon is also trading for just 11 times this year's earnings, and it bears pointing out that it has beaten Wall Street's profit targets in all four of the past reports.
2. Target: 1.5% yield
Target is next on the list. The "cheap chic" retailer packs the lowest yield on this list, but it's the only active Dividend Aristocrat. Target has increased its quarterly distributions for 49 consecutive years.
A big reason for the yield being so low is that the stock has appreciated significantly because it's doing so well. Target has more than doubled over the past year. The mass market retailer thrived in the pandemic. Target didn't have to close down during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, providing essentials to get folks through the lockdown.
Comps have topped 20% for four consecutive quarters, and the 22.9% surge it posted in its latest fiscal quarter is stacked on top of a 10.8% increase a year earlier. Digital sales are booming, but more to Target's prowess here is its ability to drum up in-store traffic and curbside pickup volume.
3. Tanger Factory Outlet Centers: 3.8% yield
We're shopping at brick-and-mortar stores again, but we still want to get more bang for our buck. The same thesis that is driving retail traffic to Target is also at play at Tanger, an operator of three dozen open-air shopping centers loaded with discount outlets for top brands.
Traffic was at 97% of 2019 levels in its latest quarter -- two-year comparisons are so much more noteworthy these days -- and it hit 100% early in the current quarter. Occupancy rate is still not where it used to be, but that will change as it refreshes its tenant mix coming out of the pandemic. This is a yield that could be on the rise later this year, as Tanger is paying just half as much as it was before the COVID-19 crisis. As a real estate investment trust (REIT) Tanger Factory Outlet Centers will pass on its increasing profits to shareholders.
Verizon, Target, and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers should all be increasing their payout in the coming months. AT&T is going the other way.