Red-hot inflation, geopolitical tensions, an uncertain outlook for consumer spending and the housing market -- the list of stock market headwinds goes on and on. One approach for folks looking for a simple way to ride out the volatility is to invest in good companies that have attractive dividend yields.

An advantage of a sizable yield -- particularly a yield of 4% or higher -- is that the dividend on its own is enough to supplement some income in retirement.

However, the 4% level is even more critical right now because rising interest rates have pushed the three-month Treasury bill rate up. In fact, the three-month Treasury bill yield is currently 3.8% -- which is the highest level in 15 years. 

A stock with a 4% yield is essentially providing the same amount of passive income as a three-month Treasury bill while also giving exposure to the potential upside and downside of the equity market. Stanley Black & Decker (SWK 0.53%), TotalEnergies (TTE 0.58%), and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP -0.52%) are three excellent companies that also happen to be high-yield dividend stocks. Here's what makes each a great buy now.

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The key to the investment case is now the restructuring plan

Lee Samaha (Stanley Black & Decker): It's been an awful year for hardware and tools company Stanley Black & Decker. Investors started the year hoping for the company to begin overcoming supply chain pressures and its raw material costs. In doing so, Stanley would generate margin expansion in a year when it refocused on its core tools and storage and industrial products businesses.

Stanley sold its electronic security business and its automatic doors business this year. Meanwhile, Stanley bought the remaining 80% it didn't own in outdoor and lawn products company MTD at the end of 2021, and investors were looking forward to its integration into Stanley's business.

Unfortunately, almost everything went wrong. The supply chain issues persisted, as did raw material inflation. Meanwhile, Stanley's focus on the consumer, notably the housing market (DIY tools), exposes it to near-term risk as mortgage rates soar and the housing market slows. 

Case-Shiller Composite 20 Home Price Index YoY Chart

Case-Shiller Composite 20 Home Price Index YoY data by YCharts

In response, management has initiated an aggressive restructuring plan to shave a whopping $2 billion off costs within three years. As such, the key to the investment case is the successful implementation of the restructuring plan, while investors hope the DIY tools market will hold up, so they can enjoy the current 4.2% yield while they wait for recovery. It's a compelling proposition, but perhaps one better looked at after the company's most recent results, due at the end of October.

A well-rounded energy company with the highest yield in its peer group

Daniel Foelber (TotalEnergies): Today, big oil companies are investing in alternative and renewable energy, diversifying their portfolios away from oil and gas. However, there are still only a handful of American and European integrated oil majors that play in the upstream, midstream, and downstream spaces. French multinational TotalEnergies is one of the six majors alongside BP, Shell, Equinor, Chevron, and ExxonMobil. Yet Total is the only European major that didn't cut its dividend during the worst of the oil and gas crash of 2020. 

Since then, BP, Shell, and Equinor have made sizable dividend raises, and Chevron and ExxonMobil have continued making moderate increases to maintain their status as Dividend Aristocrats. But Total still has the highest yield of the integrated majors -- with a yield of 5.5% (although taxes and fees apply for U.S. investors earning dividends from foreign companies).

TTE Dividend Yield Chart

TTE Dividend Yield data by YCharts

What's more, Total is an excellent value, with the second-lowest price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of the majors at just 6.5. Investors should keep in mind that P/E ratios for the integrated oil major group as a whole are below their long-term averages despite their stock prices being up. The discounted valuation is likely due to expectations that profits will come down as oil and gas prices stabilize.

Aside from its high dividend yield and low valuation, Total is in a good position to take advantage of strong oil and gas prices and new investments in lower carbon solutions. Total has one of the lowest costs of production of the oil majors. Its aggressive investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG) have given it a 10% share of the global LNG market as Total works toward making natural gas 50% of its sales mix by 2030. 

Total has also invested heavily in solar energy -- expanding its installed capacity from 0.7 gigawatts to 10 gigawatts between 2017 and 2021. 

In sum, Total has an efficient oil and gas portfolio, a growing LNG and renewable energy portfolio, a discounted valuation, and the highest dividend yield of the oil majors.

Build a better passive income stream with Brookfield 

Scott Levine (Brookfield Infrastructure): Paying more at the pump, at the supermarket, at mom-and-pop shops can leave you feeling frustrated that your purchasing power has plummeted. Pinching the pursestrings may help alleviate the strain, but it's very likely that it won't be enough. Many investors, consequently, are turning to strong dividend stocks to boost their passive income -- especially those with appealing yields like the 4.4% forward dividend yield that Brookfield Infrastructure currently offers.

A global leader in infrastructure, Brookfield owns and operates a variety of assets that produce stable cash flows. Provided the company meets its funds from operations forecast and generates $2.70 per unit in 2022, the company will have increased its funds from operations at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% from 2012 to 2022.

In addition to electricity and natural gas utilities, the company's assets include data infrastructure, transportation (such as rail operations and toll roads), and midstream energy pipelines and storage facilities. And the portfolio is poised to grow even larger. Among other projects that the company has in its pipeline, Brookfield Infrastructure is working with Intel to build a $30 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in Arizona.

In addition to the stock's attractive yield, income investors will also find management's commitment to increasingly rewarding investors alluring. During a recent investor presentation, Brookfield Infrastructure reiterated a distribution growth target of 5% to 9% annually over the long term. For those who question whether this goal is realistic, a glance at the company's previous performance should lend some credibility. Should the company achieve its 2022 forecast and return $1.44 per unit in distributions, it will represent a 9% CAGR in its distributions per unit since 2012.