As an income investor, it is a delicate balancing act to construct a dividend portfolio with a high-enough yield to cover your expenses and still ensure that your dividend income will be sustainable. In an environment with the S&P 500 yielding a paltry 1.3%, this can tempt investors into picking a stock whose dividend is on shaky ground, otherwise known as a yield trap.
Fortunately, there are still numerous safe high-yield dividend stocks in the investment universe. Here are five of the lowest-risk options for income investors to consider adding to their portfolios.
Enterprise Products Partners: 8% yield
Despite its market-crushing yield, the master limited partnership (MLP) Enterprise Products Partners (EPD 0.46%) offers one of the safest distributions (the MLP equivalent of a dividend) in general.
With a network of more than 50,000 miles of pipeline to move crude oil, natural gas, and refined products around the country, Enterprise Products Partners is one of the largest midstream companies in the world. It isn't hyperbole to suggest that it plays a vital role in the modern global economy.
Because 87% of the business last year came from fixed-fee agreements based on how much volume of product flows through its pipeline, the business is very stable. Even in an environment with significant COVID-19 headwinds last year, Enterprise's distributable cash flow fell only 3.3% over 2019 to $6.4 billion. Paired with the company's strong distribution coverage ratio of 1.6 last year, the stock offers a safe and steady high yield. This explains Enterprise Products Partners' streak of 24 consecutive years of distribution increases.
Magellan Midstream Partners: 8.7% yield
Like Enterprise Products Partners, Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP -0.91%) is a bet that the demand for refined products and crude oil isn't going away anytime soon.
Because refined products are inputs in the manufacturing of products like bandages and anesthetics, this seems like a safe bet for the next couple of decades. The essential nature of crude oil is why the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts total global oil demand will actually increase 9% from 2019 to 2040. With 12,000 miles of pipelines for refined products and crude oil, 8.5%-yielding Magellan Midstream Partners should benefit from this healthy outlook.
The company's business model is also very stable, like that of Enterprise Products Partners, with over 85% of its year-to-date business derived from fee-based agreements.
Given that Magellan expects to cover its distribution by nearly 1.2 times over this year, the distribution is largely shielded from the threat of a downturn in the business. The company has been able to raise its secure distribution for more than 20 straight years.
British American Tobacco: 8.6% yield
While British American Tobacco (BTI 0.37%) is known for its traditional cigarette brands such as Newport and Camel, it is intent on changing that with its rapidly growing noncombustible brands. These include the vape brand Vuse and heated-tobacco brand Glo, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized to be marketed as reduced-risk products compared to traditional cigarettes.
And in the short time that these noncombustible brands have been around, they already have gained over 16 million consumers. While noncombustible brands made up just 12% of British American's revenue in the first half of this year, the category's sales grew 50% year over year. As more consumers switch to noncombustible products, the company should keep capturing a large share of that market to generate future growth.
Based on analysts' earnings per share (EPS) forecasts for mid-single-digit growth next year, British American Tobacco's whopping 8.6% yield is also well covered, with its dividend payout ratio likely to be in the mid-60% range for this year.
Verizon: 4.9% yield
Whether through home internet or smartphones, the world is becoming increasingly dependent on data for a variety of purposes. Much of this demand is being fulfilled by the telecommunications giant Verizon Communications (VZ -0.14%).
The new generation of mobile networks known as 5G will be crucial to the success of up-and-coming growth trends like virtual and augmented reality, as well as helping the information-based economy to operate. Verizon's 5G network now covers 230 million customers in the U.S. and is set to continue expanding, and analysts are forecasting 4% annual earnings growth over the next five years.
This should allow Verizon to build on its 15 consecutive years of dividend increases with 2% to 3% raises, which is decent growth considering its nearly 5% yield.
Lockheed Martin: 3.3% yield
Like it or not, the military-industrial complex is here to stay. This was once again made abundantly clear when the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a $777.9 billion defense budget in September for fiscal year 2022, which is a 5% increase in spending over last year. Given its variety of aircraft such as F-16 fighter jets and armed Blackhawk helicopters, Lockheed Martin (LMT 0.68%) should remain a winner from increased defense spending.
With continually increasing defense budgets and the essential role of Lockheed Martin's products in national security, analysts forecast that the company's EPS will grow at nearly 12% annually in the next few years. That growth should allow the company to build on its 19 consecutive years of dividend growth.
Lockheed Martin's market-beating 3.3% yield and moderate dividend growth potential are a potent combo that income investors will appreciate.