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September Sell-Off: 3 Dividend Stocks to Buy on Sale

By David Jagielski – Updated Sep 21, 2021 at 5:03PM

Key Points

  • Scotts Miracle-Gro, Village Super Market, and AT&T are all investments that have been falling this year, but that doesn't mean they're bad buys.
  • Although Scotts doesn't pay a high yield, it paid out a special dividend last year amid strong results.
  • There's some uncertainty ahead for AT&T and its spinoff of WarnerMedia, but one thing's for sure: Investors should expect a strong and stable dividend to come out of it.

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Don't panic during this market pullback. Instead, load up on these stocks with above-average yields.

It can be scary when stalwart dividend stocks fall in value, but it can also serve as an opportunity for investors to buy their shares on sale. Not only is there hope that they recover, but it also gives investors a chance to buy them while their yield is higher, and it will cost less to collect the same dividend. 

Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG -1.62%), Village Super Market (VLGEA -1.78%), and AT&T (T -0.47%) have all been falling this year. And they all pay better than the 1.3% yield you can expect from the average stock in the S&P 500.

Two people sitting on a sofa making calculations.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Scotts Miracle-Gro

Scotts has the lowest yield on this list, but even at 1.8%, it's still above average. Plus, that doesn't mean investors can't earn more -- last year, Scotts paid a special dividend of $5 per share. Paying a special dividend is a good way to reward shareholders without creating the expectation that a higher payout will be the norm; it gives the company flexibility with its cash flow while showing shareholders that the business is willing to share its wealth.

A big reason this lawn and garden company has been doing so well and could afford to pay a special dividend is due to the fast-growing cannabis industry. Scotts' hydroponics business, Hawthorne, helps cannabis producers grow their crops more efficiently using specialized water pipes and pumps rather than a complex operation that involves massive greenhouses. 

For the nine-month period ending July 3, Scotts' revenue of $4.2 billion was up 29% year over year. And while its gardening business (which falls under its U.S. consumer segment) grew at a 19% year over year to $2.8 billion, it was Hawthorne driving the impressive results with its revenue of $1.1 billion rising by 60% over the prior year's sales.

With results like these and more states having passed marijuana reform in the past year (including New York and New Jersey, which legalized recreational pot), the company's growth will likely remain strong for the foreseeable future. Even if Scotts doesn't declare a special dividend in 2021, it's an investment worth holding for the long haul -- for both its dividend and the growth opportunities in the cannabis sector. And with its shares down 26% this year while the S&P 500 has climbed 16%, buying Scotts Miracle-Gro today could look like a genius move a year from now.

2. Village Super Market

Village Super Market is not going to be generating the growth numbers you see from Scotts. But this dividend stock is great when it comes to consistency, which is what income investors will love about it. Its margins of less than 1% aren't great, but that's not unusual in a competitive grocery environment. And the $1.35 diluted per-share profit it has reported over the last four quarters is sufficient to support its dividend, which, on an annual basis, pays shareholders $1 per share.

Shares of Village Super Market are down just 2% this year but that pales in comparison to the S&P 500's returns. Investors just aren't in love with a company that isn't posting strong year-over-year numbers, especially at a time when many businesses have been booming as a result of the pandemic.

But the company has been growing; in its most recent period, for the quarter ending April 24, sales of $481 million grew by 5% year over year. Village Super Market attributed the growth mainly to the acquisition of assets (including five supermarkets) last year from grocery chain Fairway through a bankruptcy auction. The move expanded Village Super Market's presence on the east coast. Currently, the company has more than two dozen stores in New Jersey and another nine in New York. It also has a presence in Pennsylvania and Maryland, with one store apiece in each of those states.

The grocery business isn't going anywhere. That's why, for income investors, Village Super Market and its 4.6% yield can be a portfolio pillar for years to come.

3. AT&T

Now that the company is abandoning WarnerMedia, telecom giant AT&T is undergoing a transition that will form a new entity with entertainment company Discovery. While the move drew fair criticisms, this is arguably a good move for income investors. Trying to pay a stable dividend while also pursuing growth opportunities in a hotly contested streaming market, where competitors like Netflix and Walt Disney will spend aggressively to pump out content, wasn't likely going to work over the long term.

Although it looked for a while like AT&T was going to try to balance both, focusing on just telecom and moving away from streaming is a win for dividend investors, as that will likely ease concerns about the company's dividend. In the end, AT&T shareholders will get a good balance: They'll receive shares that represent 71% of the new entity, which will give them exposure to a new streaming business, plus, they'll be left with an investment in AT&T that will revert back to being primarily a solid income stock.

The yield likely won't be as high as it currently is (at 7.5%), but the company maintains that it will aim for a 40% to 43% payout based on free cash flow. At the very least, that will make the yield sustainable over the long haul. Over the past five years, AT&T hasn't paid a yield of less than 4%, so it's likely that after this transaction is complete (which probably won't be until the middle of next year), it will still be paying investors an above-average dividend.

Shares of AT&T are down 6% this year. The dip represents a good opportunity to buy the stock, especially if you also want to add a piece of AT&T's new business to your portfolio.

David Jagielski owns shares of Scotts Miracle-Gro. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix, Scotts Miracle-Gro, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Discovery (C shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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