If you have $5,000 that you can afford to invest in the stock market right now, you want to be careful not to chase overpriced stocks trading at all-time highs. Adding some lower-priced stocks to your portfolio can be a great way to make the most of your money and improve your prospects for earning good returns in the long run. And throwing a dividend into the mix can make an investment an even better buy.
Three stocks that pay above-average dividends and are also trading near their 52-week lows today are Baxter International (BAX -0.53%), Verizon Communications (VZ 0.26%), and Campbell Soup (CPB 0.95%). Here's why these are still excellent options for dividend investors, despite their falling valuations.
1. Baxter International
Baxter International plays an important role in the healthcare industry, providing products and services that help keep patients safe, including dialysis therapies to support renal care. Unfortunately, with hospitals pushing off procedures to help manage COVID-19, Baxter hasn't been a particularly attractive stock to hold; over the past 12 months it has declined 7%, while the S&P 500 has risen more than 32%.
The company's shares dipped after Baxter reported its second-quarter earnings results on July 29. Although sales of $3.1 billion for the period ending June 30 were up 14% year-over-year (in the first quarter, the growth rate was just 5%), it wasn't enough to keep the stock from falling. One reason could be that the company also announced the acquisition of assets from CryoLife for as much as $60.8 million, which will expand Baxter's advanced surgery portfolio. Oftentimes a company pursuing an acquisition falls on the news. This can be because investors fear dilution, or worry that the price paid was too high.
With Baxter trading near its 52-week low, now may be a great time to buy the stock. There could be plenty of potential for its shares to rise as investors transition to companies that will do well as concerns around the pandemic subside and life goes back to normal. But even if that doesn't happen as quickly as investors might hope, Baxter's business should still be strong -- over the past 12 months, it has netted a profit margin of 9%.
The company's free cash flow this past year totaled $1.4 billion, which was more than enough to cover the $499 million in dividend payments that Baxter made during that time. The company's payout ratio of 45% is very sustainable, and its dividend yield of 1.5% (better than the S&P 500's average of less than 1.4%) can provide investors with some decent income that has room to grow. The company hiked its dividend by 14% in May, marking the sixth straight year it has raised its payouts. Overall, Baxter is a solid pick for risk-averse investors in need of some safe, recurring income.
2. Verizon Communications
Verizon is another good recovery stock to buy. The economy is still in the early stages of bouncing back, but as travel picks up, more roaming and travel-related charges will be sure to boost the telecom company's top line on both the consumer and business sides. And Verizon is already starting to see some strong results flow in -- consolidated operating revenue of $33.8 billion for the period ending June 30 was up 10.9% year-over-year. Verizon also posted adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.37, which it notes was a record for the business.
The telecom stock has fallen 4% in the past year, and it has been an underwhelming buy despite the progress it has been making. But now that it is trading near its 52-week low, investors can grab it at a reduced price while also securing a top dividend in the process. Today, Verizon's stock yields 4.5%, which is the highest on this list. And the dividend payments don't look to be in any trouble -- its quarterly payouts of $0.6275 are less than half of the company's per-share profits.
Although it can be a frustratingly slow-moving stock to own, Verizon is a safe option for dividend investors. The company has increased its dividend payments for 14 years in a row, and it's likely that streak will continue given the improved outlook for the economy and the company's solid financials.
3. Campbell Soup
Campbell Soup has been falling out of favor with investors as stay-at-home trends end, meaning that more people will be eating out at restaurants and no longer having to make meals at home. Concerns surrounding inflation have also caused investors to worry about shrinking margins for the business. In the past 12 months, shares of Campbell Soup have fallen more than 15%, and the stock hit a new 52-week low this month.
The company is coming off a tough quarter. In June, it reported that its net sales of $2 billion for the period ending May 2 were down 11% due to a drop in demand. But despite those declines, the company's diluted EPS was $0.54, only one cent lower than last year. However, on an adjusted basis, the company projects earnings to fall between 1% and 2% this year, while sales could be down as much as 3.5%.
The good news is that with a payout ratio of just 54%, Campbell Soup shouldn't have any problems paying its dividend, which yields 3.5%. The company has raised payouts in the past, but not on a consistent basis; although it did provide a payout hike in 2021, the last one before that was in 2016. But even without future rate hikes, investors can still collect a solid payout from Campbell Soup, and the stock could be a good hedge. The pandemic still isn't over, and if the delta variant continues to be a problem, restrictions and concerns relating to COVID-19 could again keep people indoors -- which would likely get this stock rallying again.