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3 Top Dividend Stocks Yielding More Than 4%

By David Jagielski – Updated Sep 30, 2021 at 9:20AM

Key Points

  • Gilead Sciences, Bank of Nova Scotia, and Verizon have been increasing their dividend payments for years.
  • Bank of Nova Scotia has been paying dividends for more than 180 years.
  • With payout ratios of less than 60%, investors can expect consistent dividends from these stocks.

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Make the most of your money with these generous income stocks.

One of the downsides of the hot bull market that we're in right now is that as stock prices rise, you're earning less of a yield since it costs you more to collect the same dividend as when prices were lower. But there are still some high-yielding stocks out there that pay you much more than the 1.3% yield that the S&P 500 averages.

Three dividend stocks that pay at least a 4% yield, include Gilead Sciences (GILD 1.29%)Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS -1.95%), and Verizon (VZ -0.39%).

Adult and child counting money on a table.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Gilead Sciences

Biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences currently pays its shareholders a dividend yield of 4% per year. Although it doesn't have a terribly long track record of paying dividends (going back to 2015), the company has been generously increasing its payouts during that time. From quarterly payments of $0.43 six years ago, it has since raised them by 65% to the $0.71 that investors currently receive every three months.

Today, the business is benefiting from its COVID-19 treatment, Veklury (also known as remdesivir), which has been driving Gilead's recent growth. Revenue of $6.2 billion in the company's most recent quarter (period ending June 30) soared 21% -- with much of that due to Veklury. But even without factoring that in, sales still would have been up 5% year over year. HIV product sales were down just a modest 2% from a year ago as the company faces rising competition.

For the year, Gilead projects earnings per share between $4.70 and $5.05, which would leave plenty of room to cover its dividend that pays $2.84 on an annual basis. 

Gilead's low payout ratio (approximately 58% this year) can give investors comfort that even if there's a drop-off in revenue from Veklury or if HIV product sales falter, the company should still be in good shape to cover its dividend. And if that doesn't happen, there's plenty of room for Gilead to continue increasing its payouts.

2. Bank of Nova Scotia

A dividend yield of 4.6% makes Bank of Nova Scotia the second highest-yielding stock on this list. It's a lavish payout from a top bank in Canada that makes for a relatively safe income investment to hang on to. And safe is an understatement; this top bank has been paying a dividend since 1833. It has also increased its payouts in 43 of the past 45 years.

The bank is a model of consistency, reporting revenue of 23.6 billion Canadian dollars for the nine-month period ending July 31 -- nearly identical to the CA$23.8 billion it posted a year earlier. Net income has also been fairly consistent now that provisions for credit losses (due to a grim outlook amid the pandemic) aren't eating up a chunk of its earnings. The company has netted CA$2.5 billion in profit in each of the last two periods, and historically (prior to 2020), its profit margin has normally been at least 27% or better.

Bank of Nova Scotia's payout ratio sits comfortably at 53%, making it incredibly likely that more dividend hikes are to come. For long-term investors, this is an easy, low-risk stock to tuck away in your portfolio and just forget about.

3. Verizon

Telecom company Verizon will pay you the most of the stocks listed here, with a yield of 4.7%. Since Verizon's stock began trading in 2000, the company has consistently been paying its shareholders a dividend. It has also been increasing dividends on an annual basis since 2007. Verizon's most recent hike came this month when it declared a dividend of $0.64 -- a 2% increase from the $0.6275 it was paying beforehand. That marks the 15th straight year of increases for the dividend.

The company's payout ratio of 52% is manageable, and that makes it likely investors won't see its streak of annual dividend increases come to an end anytime soon. Verizon has enjoyed a healthy profit margin of 15% over the last 12 months, even despite the challenges of COVID-19 and people not traveling as much (which means less international roaming). 

When its second-quarter results were released on July 21, the company reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.37 for the period ending June 30, Verizon's highest profit ever (versus $1.18 a year ago). Consolidated revenue of $33.8 billion rose 10.9% year over year and was up 5.9% when compared to 2019.

Although Verizon's stock hasn't gotten much love over the past year (its shares are down 8% while the S&P 500 has risen 37%), the business looks sound. It could be a good investment to hold as global economies recover from the pandemic and there's more international travel, and consumers upgrade their phone plans and devices. Verizon notes that 20% of its wireless customers now have 5G-capable phones, this provides even more opportunity for expansion for the company and stability for investors.

David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA, Gilead Sciences, and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Gilead Sciences Stock Quote
Gilead Sciences
GILD
$89.03 (1.29%) $1.13
Verizon Communications Stock Quote
Verizon Communications
VZ
$38.18 (-0.39%) $0.15
The Bank of Nova Scotia Stock Quote
The Bank of Nova Scotia
BNS
$51.21 (-1.95%) $-1.02

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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