If you're looking for income, don't give up hope just because interest rates remain near record lows. There are some solid dividends to be collected. You just might have to look a little bit more than you normally would to find them.
To help get you started on this hunt, here's a closer look at three of the market's top dividend stocks to consider.
Dividend yield: 4.5%
The past few months have been brutal for owners of The Kraft Heinz Company (KHC -1.24%). Shares are down more than 20% from their May peak and still seem to be inching lower. Inflation is the culprit. There's just too much of it. Not only are food companies paying more for ingredients, but they're also paying more for freight.
Largely overlooked in all the noise, however, is that Kraft Heinz has been able to pretty much pass along all of its cost increases to consumers. Earnings last quarter as well as year to date are both up rather than down, and both are about as healthy as they were at this point in pre-COVID 2019.
Also important to would-be investors, Kraft Heinz is easily covering its dividend. Its year-to-date operating income of $2.15 is already more than enough to support its quarterly payout of $0.40 per share -- and the year isn't over.
Look for a widening profit margin in the foreseeable future. While it was mostly obscured by politics and pandemic chatter, the company last September unveiled a transformation plan that prioritizes greater scale and efficiency. All told, Kraft Heinz estimates it will be able to save $2 billion through 2024, including $400 million of it this year despite myriad challenges.
Dividend yield: 3.4%
If you don't live in the northeast quarter of the U.S., Citizens Financial Group (CFG -6.24%) isn't exactly a household name. What the bank lacks in size, however, it makes up for in potential returns.
As it stands right now, Citizens is the United States' thirteenth biggest bank, boasting around 1,000 branches to help manage $187 billion worth of assets, $152 billion of which is counted as deposits. Look for all these numbers to continue expanding. Being one of the industry's smaller and more nimble names, the company is better equipped to make more financially meaningful acquisitions.
For instance, earlier this month the bank unveiled plans to acquire DH Capital, and last month it completed its purchase of JMP Group, both of which bring more investment banking talent and capabilities into the fold.
Citizens Financial isn't focused on winning new institutional business at the expense of its retail customers, though. The bank knows quite well that it has to offer individual consumers the right mix of digital, self-service tools and live, in-person service. Its own market research found that nine out of 10 bank customers use a digital offering at least some of the time -- and most want their bank to meld the two kinds of services. This is true for both personal and business customers.
Yes, this dealmaking requires funding. While the JMP and DH Capital deals are all-cash transactions, Citizens ultimately takes on debt to make such acquisitions. Any recent borrowings have been made at dirt-cheap rates, though. Also, Fitch's BBB+ rating of the bank's debt -- while on the lower end of investment grade -- remains fairly positive. It's worth noting that Citizens has actually been able to whittle down some of its debt load since 2019, leaving it with greater flexibility now.
Dividend yield: 2.9%
Finally, add The Coca-Cola Company (KO -0.45%) to your short list of top dividend stocks to buy now.
It's not a name that needs any introduction. The company's flagship product's been around for well over a century, and the brand name and logo are among the world's most recognizable. It's more than a mere consumer staple. Its many brands -- ranging from Coke to Dasani water to Minute Maid juice to Powerade and more -- have become favorites that many consumers simply purchase over and over again without even thinking about it.
This, of course, is exactly the sort of business the company is trying to build. However, investors who keep close tabs on the beverage giant's fiscal results must have noticed that sales have been steadily sinking for years now. Even if that's not been a problem for profitability yet, how long can the company fend off the effects of shrinking revenue?
What's not readily evident in just looking at the numbers, however, is the organization's bigger-picture plan. Coca-Cola has made a point over the course of the past few years of scaling out of the less profitable bottling business so it could focus more on the higher margin licensing and franchising business. This effort wound down right around the time the COVID-19 pandemic wound up, obscuring the fiscal upside to the strategy. Surging inflation has rattled consumer goods companies and their investors in the meantime.
What most of these investors don't quite seem to appreciate, however, is that the adverse effect of inflation largely falls on the bottlers rather than Coca-Cola itself. The drinks maker has earned $1.70 per share through the first three quarters of the current year, up 21% from the year-ago period -- and more than enough to fund the $1.26 worth of per-share dividends it's paid out over the course of the past three quarters.
The kicker: Coca-Cola has raised its dividend every year for the past 59 years.