It's always smart to seek solid dividend-paying stocks for your portfolio, as they tend to be reliable performers, and their payouts can bolster a portfolio during market downturns. Here are three stocks with high dividend yields that are appealingly priced at recent levels.
General Electric Company (NYSE:GE)
General Electric stock recently yielded 3.5%, and it has hiked that payout by an annual average of 17% during the past five years. The company has been reshaping itself in recent years, shedding many consumer-oriented businesses and focusing more on specialties such as aviation and energy. It recently announced the sale of its iconic appliance division to Electrolux for $3.3 billion, and some sense that its lighting division, which traces its roots back to Thomas Edison in 1879, will be the next to go. Meanwhile, GE's North American retail finance business was spun off as Synchrony Financial.
In the energy realm, General Electric bought the power business of French giant Alstrom earlier this year, significantly boosting GE's power-generation capacity.
General Electric's second quarter was solid, with revenue growing by 3% year over year while earnings surged 13%. GE's industrials division grew 10%, and the company's backlog set a new record of $246 billion. Strong orders for railroad locomotives pushed the transportation division ahead by 40%.
It's hard for such a broad conglomerate to have every business booming, though. GE's mining operations were very weak, while medical devices were flat. With its forward P/E ratio near 14 -- well below its five-year average of 16 -- this high-yielder seems attractive at recent levels.
Qualcomm's dividend yield of 2.3% might not seem that generous. But note that during the past five years, it has been aggressively raising its dividend by an average of 20% annually. Qualcomm is a leader in chips for mobile devices, and it boasts a massive mobile and wireless patent portfolio as well. For example, nearly a third of its revenue was recently generated by the licensing of its 3G and 4G patents.
Qualcomm's third quarter, reported in July, featured estimate-topping revenue up 9%, while earnings spiked 40% yet still lagged expectations. The company has been facing an antitrust probe in China, where reduced royalty payments and fines may be in the offing.
Increased competition is another worry, with major customer Samsung now developing some chips in-house. Such concerns have helped depress the stock somewhat so that its P/E ratio of about 19 is well below its five-year average of about 24. Its gross and operating margins have been shrinking a bit lately, but net margins have ticked up, suggesting improved efficiency for this member of the high-yielders club. Free cash flow is prodigious, topping $8.5 billion recently.
Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM)
Philip Morris International's stock recently yielded 4.6%, and the company has hiked it by an average of 12% annually over the past five years. Many have favored it over domestic counterpart Altria Group -- also in the high-yielders club -- due to the steep taxes, increasing regulation, and falling rate of smoking in the U.S.. But Philip Morris faces its own challenges.
Even outside the U.S., many regulators are cracking down on tobacco, cigarette volume has shrunk somewhat, and a strong dollar has hurt Philip Morris, too, as it collects revenue in many different currencies. Rising taxes have been putting pressure on profit margins, and management lowered its projections for 2014 this summer. In Japan, for example, a tax hike drove volume 16% lower, and the company has closed plants in Australia and the Netherlands following increased regulations that hurt sales.
All is not lost, though, as the high-yielder has long been able to offset negative developments with price increases. And even though its net margins are down from 2012 and 2013 levels, they're still well above 25%! Philip Morris is also, like other tobacco companies, expanding beyond old-fashioned cigarettes, recently buying the U.K.-based electronic cigarette specialist Nicocigs. The merger of Reynolds American and Lorillard can also benefit Philip Morris by reducing competition and boosting pricing power.
With its current P/E ratio and its price-to-sales ratio both a bit higher than its five-year averages, the stock seems closer to reasonably priced than a screaming bargain. Still, it's a strong dividend-payer, and its forward P/E near 15 is below its five-year average of 16. The company has also been aggressively buying back its shares, with a recent share count of 1.6 billion far below 2007's 2.1 billion.
The stock market presents a lot of uncertainty, but you can reduce that by investing in a healthy, growing dividend stock.
Longtime Fool specialist Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, owns shares of General Electric Company and Qualcomm. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company and Qualcomm. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.