It's getting more challenging for income-focused investors to find good stocks with decent yields in the current environment. The average dividend yield on the S&P 500 is down to around 1.3% due to the market's long rally over the past year. Meanwhile, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury isn't much higher.
However, a few high-yield dividend stocks still stand out as attractive buys. While the quest for higher yields can often require accepting higher risk, that's not the case for Clearway Energy (CWEN -0.34%) (CWEN.A), Medical Properties Trust (MPW 0.46%), or W.P. Carey (WPC 1.37%). Here's why I'd buy any one of them right now.
A powerful growth plan
Clearway Energy owns and operates a portfolio of clean energy assets, including wind and solar electricity generating facilities, and also natural gas power plants. The company sells the power it produces under long-term, fixed-rate contracts to utilities and other end-users. Those agreements provide it with a steady stream of cash flow. It distributes 80% to 85% of those funds to shareholders via its dividend, which at current share prices yields 4.2%.
The company uses the cash it retains (along with other funding sources) to expand its portfolio and increase its cash flow. Clearway currently estimates that it can grow enough over the next few years to support annual dividend increases in the 5% to 8% range. It's on track to hit the high end of that range this year.
Clearway has already secured several investment opportunities that should drive its growth. For example, it's a co-investor on a large portfolio of renewable energy development projects scheduled to come online over the next few years. As they do, they'll supply the company with a growing stream of cash to support its dividend growth plan. That renewable-energy-powered income stream makes Clearway a great buy for yield-seeking investors.
Healthy dividend growth
Medical Properties Trust is a real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on owning hospitals. It leases these facilities to healthcare systems via triple-net agreements, under which the tenant bears responsibility for all maintenance, building insurance, and real estate taxes. This allows Medical Properties to earn stable rental income. About 60% of its cash flow is distributed in dividends At current share prices, that payout yields 5.4%.
The REIT takes the money it retains and combines it with other funding sources to acquire additional hospital properties. It has already secured $3.6 billion of new investments in 2021, which puts it on track to grow its cash flow at a double-digit percentage rate.
That should allow Medical Properties Trust to continue boosting its payout, which it has done for eight consecutive years at a 5% compound annual rate.
Steady as a rock
W.P. Carey is a diversified REIT that owns everything from warehouses to office buildings to self-storage facilities -- all triple-net leased to credit-worthy tenants. That diversification generates stable rental income for the company, and it pays out about 85% of that money via its dividend, which at the current share price yields about 5.5%.
This REIT, too, is expanding its portfolio. It has acquired $1.2 billion worth of properties this year, primarily industrial and warehouse facilities -- deals that are helping to grow its cash flow.
The company has an excellent dividend growth track record. It has increased its payout every year since its initial public offering in 1998. That streak appears poised to continue. W.P. Carey's stable rental income and strong financial profile give it the financial flexibility to continue expanding its global real estate empire.
High dividend yields are only part of the attraction
Clearway Energy, Medical Properties Trust, and W.P. Carey offer yields that are well above average. However, what makes them stand out from other high-yield dividend stocks is their dividend growth track records and potential. All three have the financial flexibility to continue expanding their portfolios of cash-generating assets, which should allow them to continue increasing their payouts. Their ability to deliver steadily rising income streams is why I'd buy any one of them right now.