Are you already retired and collecting your monthly Social Security checks? Or is that time in the not-too-distant future? Congratulations! You've put in the time and effort. Now you're enjoying the fruits of your labor.
The fact is, however, that the average Social Security check just isn't all that big. The Social Security Administration reports that in 2020, the average monthly payment for retirees is $1,544. That's a decent start, but it won't fully fund the sort of retirement lifestyle most of us envision.
Fear not. A trio of hand-picked dividend stocks can readily and reliably supplement your monthly Social Security income and get you closer to where you want to be income-wise. Here's a closer look at each.
1. Bank of America
Current dividend yield: 2.1%
It's more than a familiar name. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is the nation's second-biggest bank, as measured by assets, boasting 66 million customers and a network of around 4,300 branches. The company does a little of everything, from consumer lending to brokerage to institutional investing.
Most importantly for income-seeking investors, though, it pays a dividend. Its present dividend yield of 2.1% isn't exactly thrilling, but it's been paid every quarter like clockwork for years, and the bank has grown that payment from $0.05 per share as of 2014 to $0.21 per share beginning this September.
Veteran investors may recall that Bank of America cut its quarterly payout to the bone in the wake of 2007-09's subprime crisis, holding it at a penny per share through 2014 when it finally upped it to $0.05 en route to the aforementioned $0.21. The decision is understandable given the circumstances but concerning to dividend investors all the same. What if something like that happens again?
It's a prospect that is much less likely these days. Yes, the mega-bank would feel some effects from a recession, but regulatory safeguards put in place since the Great Recession like periodic Federal Reserve stress tests and other measures are much better at preventing the banking industry from putting itself at that much risk again in the future.
The point being, Bank of America's business model is plenty reliable, and perhaps even more so now that in a normal (pre-pandemic) year no single business unit accounts for more than half of its revenue. Only one -- consumer banking -- accounts for more than 30% of its net income. This mix helps smooth out any fiscal rough spots.
Current dividend yield: 4.5%
It's another name that doesn't need much of an introduction. Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is the biggest wireless name in the U.S., with Comscore reporting the company controls 31% of the market. That's 94.6 million connections, with 368,000 of them brought into the fold just last quarter.
It's not Verizon's market leadership that makes it such a compelling income option, though. The above-average yield of 4.5% isn't a game-changer either, in light of its merely average dividend growth; last September's annualized payout increase was a modest 2%, in line with its dividend growth for the past several years.
Rather, the argument for retirees using Verizon's dividend as a way of supplementing Social Security income lies in how well Verizon ensures it can continue paying and improving its dividend.
As an example, the company spent the last several years making huge investments in its fiberoptic network that at the time didn't seem entirely necessary. Now we know there was a method to the madness.
The advent of 5G connectivity has placed unprecedented demands on the wireless spectrum, and the only way to effectively manage it is by offloading much of that data-transmission work onto fiber-based infrastructure. In fact, as of early this year, the company confirmed most of its 5G sites were connected to Verizon's network using its own fiberoptic lines.
By operating in this sort of self-reliant manner, Verizon wields enviable control of its costs, pricing, and profitability.
3. Texas Instruments
Current dividend yield: 2.1%
Finally, add Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) to your list of stocks that can help retirees produce more spendable income.
Yes, it's a technology name. Don't let the sector categorization fool you, though. The company's wares aren't part of hyper-competitive markets like computer processors or cloud computing. Texas Instruments makes the semiconductors, capacitors, sensors, controllers, switches, and antennas that manufacturers need all the time regardless of the economic environment. Sometimes being boring can be a good thing!
Like Bank of America, Texas Instruments' current yield of 2.1% isn't heroic. Also like B of A, though, there's more to the story. Since 2012, Texas Instruments has made a point of beefing up its dividend prowess, growing its full-year payout from $0.72 per share then to $4.08 in 2020, with last year's payout a hefty 13% improvement on 2019's dividends.
The company probably can't maintain that rapid pace of payout growth for much longer, as the total amount of cash being returned to shareholders now accounts for more than half of the free cash flow Texas Instruments is generating after paying all of its bills. It's got to keep something to put back into the business to keep it growing, after all.
However, the dividend-oriented evolution of the company that's ultimately rooted in lower capital requirements has quietly made this name an underappreciated dividend option.