It's not easy to find an attractive income yield these days. While the Federal Reserve has started raising interest rates, they remain near historical lows. Because of that, yield-focused investments like dividend stocks offer lackluster payouts. For example, the current dividend yield on the S&P 500 is near a two-decade low of around 1.3%.
However, there are some higher-yielding opportunities in today's low-yield environment. Three stocks currently offering well above average dividend yields are 3M (MMM 0.38%), Crestwood Equity Partners (CEQP), and Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure (AY 0.44%). Here's why income-focused investors will want to take a closer look at this high-yielding trio.
Strike while the iron's hot
Reuben Gregg Brewer (3M): With the S&P 500 index yielding a paltry 1.3%, industrial giant 3M's roughly 4% dividend yield is definitely high relative to the market. But it also happens to be high relative to the company's own historical yield range. In fact, over the past 25 years the yield has only been this high two other times. If history is any guide, now is the time to buy this stock.
There are a couple of key things to keep in mind. First, 3M is a Dividend King with over six decades of annual dividend increases under its belt. Management clearly places increasing the dividend each year high on the priority list. Second, every company's fortunes wax and wane over time. Right now, 3M is in the proverbial barrel.
The reason for the downbeat view here is some lawsuits around environmental and product issues. Such lawsuits aren't unusual for a large and diversified industrial company, though the ones 3M is facing could be costly if it loses. Thus the negative sentiment that is providing long-term contrarian investors an opportunity to buy the stock at what appears to be bargain prices.
Here's what you need to believe if you step aboard: Investment-grade rated 3M, with an $85 billion market cap, can handle the financial impact if it loses. If you look at, say, the tobacco industry or even Johnson & Johnson's recent baby powder travails, is it so hard to believe that 3M will muddle through largely intact? I, for one, am grabbing this high-yield stock while I still can.
This big-time yield should keep heading higher
Matt DiLallo (Crestwood Equity Partners): Crestwood Equity Partners offers an eye-popping yield of 8.4%. That's primarily due to the low value investors are willing to pay for master limited partnerships (MLPs) these days because of the volatility in the energy sector. Crestwood currently expects to produce more than $500 million in cash flow in 2022. With a market cap below $3 billion, it fetches around six times cash flow.
That low valuation allows income-focused investors to lock in a lucrative income stream. Crestwood expects to generate enough cash to cover its big-time distribution by at least two times this year. That's after factoring in its plan to increase the rate by 5% following its acquisition of fellow MLP Oasis Midstream Partners. That will leave the MLP with enough cash to cover its planned $160 million to $180 million of expansion-related spending with $75 million to $135 million to spare. This excess cash will provide Crestwood with the additional financial flexibility to strengthen its already solid balance sheet, repurchase equity, and make new growth-related investments.
Given its strong financial profile and valuations across the MLP space, Crestwood wants to be a consolidator in the sector. It targets deals that significantly increase its scale, improve its relevance in core basins, increase its balance sheet strength, and build long-term value for investors. The Oasis deal accomplished all those goals. It also put the MLP in the position to pursue further consolidation in the sector.
Combined with its other expansion-related investments, those deals should enable Crestwood to continue growing its cash flow. That should give it the funds to deliver further distribution growth in the coming years, making it a great option for yield-focused investors.
A little-known but reliable dividend growth stock
Neha Chamaria (Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure): Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure currently yields 5%, and there are two reasons to believe this yield is not only sustainable, but could even grow: the industry the company operates in, and its recent growth moves.
Atlantica Sustainable primarily owns and operates wind and solar energy assets, and also dabbles in natural gas and geothermal. In 2021, 77% of the company's revenue came from renewables. Renewable energy has exponential growth potential as more and more nations across the globe strive to shift from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Importantly, nearly all of Atlantica Sustainable's revenue is contracted or regulated, which means the company can earn stable and predictable income and cash flow at all times. That's perhaps the biggest reason why Atlantica Sustainable can pay regular dividends and even increase them as alongside its cash flows. Through 2025, the company expects cash available for distribution to grow by 5% to 8%, driven by a mix of organic growth, acquisitions, and advancement of its development pipeline. Because Atlantica Sustainable also has a healthy balance sheet, it can afford to invest in growth and increase dividends without much worry.
All of that eventually boils to one thing: Strong shareholder returns in the form of reliable passive income and a high yield. So if you think it's hard to find good high-yield stocks amid the current market volatility, you might want to take a look at Atlantica Sustainable.