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5 Stocks to Supplement Your Social Security Benefits

By Todd Campbell - Apr 18, 2016 at 9:41AM

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ExxonMobil, AT&T, Deere & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Microsoft all offer compelling dividend yields that could boost income in retirement.


Millions of Americans rely heavily on Social Security income to cover their monthly expenses and that's because the vast majority of Americans' retirement accounts aren't big enough to kick off a substantial amount of retirement income. According to the New York Federal Reserve, the average nest egg among American retirement savers is just $60,000. If you're looking for investment ideas that can give your retirement account a booster shot and help supplement your Social Security income, it might be worth considering these five stocks, all of which have catalysts that should keep their businesses humming and dividend yields that are bigger than the S&P 500.


No. 1: ExxonMobil Corporation (XOM 0.32%)
It may seem counter intuitive to lead with an energy company given that oil and gas prices have nose-dived in the past year, but ExxonMobil is an industry Goliath that's perfectly positioned to capitalize on industry wide fire sales by weaker competitors.

ExxonMobil's rock-solid balance sheet is packed with about $38 billion in cash and investments and it produces a whopping $30 billion in operating cash flow. Despite the slide in oil prices last year, the company still posted $16.2 billion in earnings in 2015, including $2.8 billion in the fourth quarter alone.

Yes, shares could sink further. But, if the global population continues to climb and efforts in Europe and China to rekindle economic growth eventually pan out, ExxonMobil could offer investors plenty of long-tail opportunity. In the meantime, investors will be rewarded with an attractive 3.5% forward dividend yield.


No. 2: AT&T, (T -0.44%)
Competition in wireless is fierce, but AT&T remains a gold standard and its recent acquisition of DirecTV netted it the country's second largest television provider, giving it plenty of cross-selling potential to pad its profits.

Last year, millions of subscribers translated into operating income of $27.7 billion and adjusted EPS of $2.71. This year, AT&T expects to grow its adjusted earnings by the mid single digits or better, and future profit could head higher given that AT&T has said it thinks it can shave $1.6 billion in costs following its DirecTV deal.

Given AT&T's status as an industry Goliath and its 5% forward dividend yield, this one could be worth socking away for retirement income.


No. 3: Deere & Company (DE -0.27%)
One of Warren Buffett's biggest buys last quarter was agriculture machinery leader Deere & Co and his bet on this company seems to make a lot of sense.

The company has taken a hit as grain prices have slipped, however, the multi-decade trend toward greater food consumption resulting from a larger and wealthier world population remains intact and that suggests that struggles today may offer an attractive opportunity to buy.

Farm income is expected to hit a 14-year low this year and while that won't help equipment demand now, it could indicate we're pretty close to a cyclical bottom that could lead to a rebound.

If so, then picking up shares in Deere & Co when they're not that far above their 52-week low could be smart, especially since doing so nets investors a healthy 3.17% dividend yield.


No. 4: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY -0.17%)
Game-changing immunotherapies are revolutionizing cancer treatment and perhaps no immunotherapy is better positioned to capitalize on this trend than Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo, a drug that prevents cancer cells from blocking a patient's immune system from attacking it. So far, Opdivo has notched FDA approvals in melanoma, lung cancer, and kidney cancer, and with dozens of trials under way, future approvals are likely. If so, then Opdivo's nearly $2 billion annualized quarterly sales pace could be just the start of things to come.

Bristol-Myers Squibb also co-owns a fast-growing $2 billion plus per year anticoagulant, Eliquis, and it recently won approval for a new multiple myeloma drug, Empliciti. Additionally, the company's been making acquisitions and it invested nearly $6 billion into R&D last year, so other drugs in development could help spark sales in the future.

Overall, Opdivo's success has management expecting global mid single digit revenue growth and EPS of between $2.30 and $2.40 this year and that makes this company's otherwise timid 2.3% dividend yield a lot more appealing.


No. 5: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT -1.80%)
Once upon a time, Microsoft's financials lived or died by quarterly PC sales. That's no longer the case. A new CEO has quickly turned Microsoft from the leading player in a dying industry to the leading player in the fast-growing cloud data market.

Last quarter, Microsoft's number of commercial cloud customers doubled, resulting in a $9.4 billion annualized sales pace for that business, which is up 70% from 2014. In Microsoft's productivity software business (think Word and Excel), over 20 million people have embraced the cloud-based Office 365. And with more than 200 million devices now running Windows 10, Windows 10's deep integration with Microsoft's other profit-friendly services, such as Bing and Xbox, offers plenty of profit-friendly tailwinds. Given that backdrop, it wouldn't be surprising to see Microsoft return increasingly more money to its investors, including via an increase to its dividend, which currently yields 2.65%.

Tying it together
The average Social Security check is $1,341 per month this year and while dividends from these five stocks aren't likely to kick off that much money for the average investor, their average 3.32% dividend yield could still supplement that income nicely.

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Stocks Mentioned

AT&T Inc. Stock Quote
AT&T Inc.
$20.48 (-0.44%) $0.09
Microsoft Corporation Stock Quote
Microsoft Corporation
$262.00 (-1.80%) $-4.82
Bristol Myers Squibb Company Stock Quote
Bristol Myers Squibb Company
$78.09 (-0.17%) $0.13
Exxon Mobil Corporation Stock Quote
Exxon Mobil Corporation
$92.40 (0.32%) $0.29
Deere & Company Stock Quote
Deere & Company
$383.24 (-0.27%) $-1.02

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

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