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3 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks to Buy Today

By Motley Fool Staff – Feb 1, 2014 at 12:00PM

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Looking for passive income? Look no further than these three stocks.

Source: Flickr/401(K) 2012.

With interest rates at rock-bottom levels, investors everywhere are searching for investments with stable dividends. Many traditional dividend-paying stocks, such as utilities and REITs, have been bid up and now no longer offer significant yields anymore.

If that in mind, we asked three of our top financial contributors to scour the investment-universe to find three stocks with sporting big dividends.

Matt Frankel: As far as rock-solid, high-yielding stocks go, it's tough to beat Prospect Capital (PSEC 1.04%). This business development company, or BDC, makes its money by lending to private businesses. BDCs must pay out most of their profits to avoid corporate taxation, which explains why they can offer such attractive yields.

Prospect pays a yield of around 12.2% annually, a type of yield normally seen in mortgage REITs, whose dividends have been inconsistent at best lately. Unlike these, Prospect has already declared its monthly dividends through June and plans to declare its payouts through September before the end of next month. Not only that, bit it's also increasing the payout slightly every month.

Prospect has also taken steps to diversify its holdings throughout the past few quarters. In addition to accelerating its loan originations to businesses, Prospect has been acquiring other types of assets, such as rental real estate and equities in the businesses to which it lends money. With a consistent and stable yield of more than 12%, Prospect is definitely worth checking out for any income portfolio.

Patrick Morris: There are likely going to be companies with bigger dividend yields on this list, but it would be tougher to find one that is a better investment than New York Community Bancorp (NYCB 0.97%). Although banks often scare many people away, consider that New York Community Bancorp has paid out its dividend of $0.25 per share for the past 40 consecutive quarters. In fact, it has paid out a dividend each quarter since the middle of 1994, when it went public. With that streak in mind, you'd be hard pressed to find a more consistent and reliable dividend in the financial sector.

Beyond the simple mechanics of its impressive 6% dividend yield is that of its business. Its management has done an outstanding job of allocating capital and making intelligent loans in the less risky, but highly profitable commercial and multi-family real estate industries.

Yet not only is its ability to generate income impressive, but so, too, is its ability to manage the cost associated with bringing those dollars in. Consider its phenomenally low efficiency ratio -- which measures the cost of every dollar of revenue -- stood at 42.7% in 2013, well ahead of even some of the best run banks like Wells Fargo (58.3%) and US Bancorp (52.4%).

Add in its strong return on averages assets and tangible equity of 1.1% and 15%, respectively, plus its reasonable valuation with price to tangible book value standing at 2.2, you'd be hard pressed to find a better investment in a company with a great dividend than that offered by New York Community Bancorp.

Jordan Wathen: One of my favorite high-yielding investments is Main Street Capital (MAIN 0.82%), another business development company. I'm not alone in liking Main Street Capital -- it trades at 1.7 times book, making it one of the priciest in the industry.

What I find most attractive about Main Street Capital is its low cost structure. Unlike most in its sector, the company is internally managed, so it doesn't come with the typical 2-and-20 fee structure in which 2% of assets and 20% of returns are paid out to an asset manager. Instead, it pays its employees internally. Costs waver at 1.7% of assets annually.

Main Street Capital is a "jockey" play.

The company's small size also gives it two big advantages. First, it makes full use of inexpensive leverage from the Small Business Administration, which gives it access to long-term fixed-rate debt at a cost of roughly 4.3% per year. (Sidebar: The SBA awarded it the coveted title of "Small Business Investment Company of the Year" award in 2011.) Secondly, as a smaller BDC, it invests in the smallest of middle-market companies. Main Street Capital's lower middle market portfolio yields more than 14%, much higher than the yields of its rivals, which invest in larger middle-market companies where markets are more efficient.

Finally, the dividend is very attractive. Main Street Capital expects to pay out more than $2.50 per share in distributions to shareholders in 2014, giving it an implied yield of 7.35%, despite its high price-to-book value. With insiders owning more than 7% of the company, I have confidence that the management will make investments as if it were their own money at stake -- a key ingredient of any "jockey" play.

Jordan Wathen has no position in any stocks mentioned. Matthew Frankel owns shares of Prospect Capital. Patrick Morris owns shares of US Bancorp. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Wells Fargo. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

New York Community Bancorp Stock Quote
New York Community Bancorp
NYCB
$9.35 (0.97%) $0.09
Prospect Capital Stock Quote
Prospect Capital
PSEC
$7.74 (1.04%) $0.08
Main Street Capital Stock Quote
Main Street Capital
MAIN
$38.24 (0.82%) $0.31

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

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