Stocks with unusually high yields may look enticing, but they can be ticking time bombs. After all, high yields are frequently a by-product of a cratering share price -- and that may spell disaster for unsuspecting investors.
That said, our Foolish contributors think there are a select few high-yield dividend stocks worth buying right now. Read on to find out which stocks they recommend and why.
Automakers as a whole have been burdened lately by slowing growth in China, the world's largest auto market, which in 2015 produced its weakest GDP growth over the past 25 years. Additionally, expectations that domestic auto sales could peak in 2017 or 2018 have some investors lunging for the exit since the stock market tends to be forward-looking (and auto stocks are notoriously cyclical).
However, for the long-term investor, there could still be plenty of value here. Domestically, Ford has done a great job of using innovation and pricing to attract both the first-time buyer and higher-margin pre-retirees. Ford's strategy has been to lean on its EcoBoost engines, which save fuel without giving up power; promote its in-cabin infotainment systems and technological add-ons, which give its vehicles a more luxurious feel; and keep prices at a competitive level. All aspects of Ford's multi-year turnaround appear to be working nicely.
More recently, it's benefited from lower prices at the pump. Lower fuel prices can steer consumers away from highly coveted sedans and toward higher-margin SUVs and trucks. The F-Series pickup still remains the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., and that's unlikely to change anytime soon.
Looking longer-term, China, India, and a number of emerging and underdeveloped markets in Africa could prove to be great growth drivers for Ford. For context, even though Ford's February sales in China dipped by nearly 9%, when taken as a whole with January's sales, Ford's China sales are actually up 18% year to date, even with all the uncertainty in that region. In short, Ford's overseas growth prospects continue to look solid.
Sporting a 4.5% yield, Ford could be the income stock that helps your portfolio drive off into the sunset.
Mattel (MAT -0.69%) is one of the top players in the global toy industry. The company owns enormously valuable brands such as Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and American Girl, among others. Kids nowadays are increasingly inclined toward tablets and video games as opposed to traditional toys, but Mattel is doing a sound job at adapting to changing consumer demand.
Global currency headwinds are hurting the company's performance when expressed in U.S. dollars, but sales in constant currency are still moving in the right direction. Worldwide constant-currency sales grew 4% in the fourth quarter of 2015, with constant currency sales from Barbie, Fisher-Price, and Hot Wheels growing 8%, 13%, and 28%, respectively.
Mattel and Hasbro (HAS -8.11%) are reportedly having conversations about a possible merger. There has been no official confirmation about these negotiations, and it's hard to tell at this stage if any deal will go through or not. However, both Mattel and Hasbro would have a lot to gain from a potential merger, as they could complement each other's portfolio of brands, and could also create an industry giant with enormous financial resources and scale advantages across the board.
Mattel pays a quarterly dividend of $0.38 per share, which equates to a big dividend yield of 4.7% at the current stock price. The company may be in the toy business, but management is not playing around when it comes to dividend payments to shareholders.
One of my favorite stocks right now happens to be currently yielding a sky-high 9%: ONEOK, Inc (OKE -0.50%). And while ONEOK is in the same industry that has seen huge dividend cuts -- oil and gas pipeline companies -- its dividend yield is more a result of the market's sentiment and the beaten-down nature of the energy industry than it represents a substantial risk that it will have to cut payouts.
ONEOK -- which is the general partner to and a major shareholder of ONEOK Partners LP (OKS), the master limited partnership that owns all of the actual assets -- is likely a lower-risk investment today than it was even a year ago. This is because over the past year, the company has taken major steps to reduce its exposure to natural gas and NGL commodity prices in its gathering and processing agreements -- both existing contracts that it has reworked as they came up for renewal as well as new gathering contracts as it expands along with natural gas production in key plays in the Midwest.
Management has made a point to reiterate the dividend multiple times over the past several months, and it has taken actions that back up those claims. The company recently entered into a $1 billion term loan agreement, refinancing debt it had coming due in 2016, while also giving it significant capital to cover its expansion plans "well into" 2017, according to CEO Terry Spencer.
While that doesn't sound like a plan that will lead to a big increase anytime soon, it does paint a picture of a company that's positioned to ride out the current energy downturn and likely come out of it stronger, with bigger cash flows. If you're willing to ride out the risk and volatility, the rewards look to be worthwhile.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -0.11%) has fallen off many radar screens over the last few years thanks to several high-profile clinical failures that left its oncology pipeline in particularly bad shape, its flagship COPD and asthma medicine Advair losing market share, newer respiratory medicines like Breo Ellipta experiencing a painfully slow commercial launch, and of course, the bribery scandal in China that resulted in a massive fine.
Taken together, these various headwinds helped to drive a shareholder revolt against the company's CEO, Andrew Witty, with the drugmaker reportedly looking to make a change in leadership by 2017.
Even so, this somewhat forgotten big pharma stock looks like it deserves more attention from income-seeking investors because of its hefty dividend yield, which sits at 6.64% at current levels -- and because its respiratory franchise as a whole is now on the rebound, and its emerging HIV franchise has been performing exceptionally well in recent quarters. In fact, Wall Street is forecasting that Glaxo should return to growth by 2017, according to analysts polled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
All told, I think the worst is probably behind Glaxo at this stage, making it worth a deeper dive by investors who have a long-term outlook.