S&P 500 dividend growth continues to outpace earnings growth, a trend that likely will continue for a few more years. Low yields on fixed income alternatives and historically low dividend payout ratios provide both ample incentives and means for companies to boost payouts. In a world of historically low bond and money market yields, investors need to reach for yield without grabbing too much risk.
In the final quarter of 2012, S&P 500 dividends per share rose 23% over the 2011 fourth quarter, as well as by 15% sequentially. These figures exclude the surge in “special” or nonrecurring dividends that companies rushed to pay in calendar year 2012 before a potential (and realized, for high earners) rise in dividend tax rates.
The clear advantage to investors in owning quality dividend-yielding stocks instead of overpriced bonds has never been greater. UBS A.G. (NYSE: UBS) has released their Dividend Ruler list, which highlights their top picks in the global dividend stock arena. We screened their list for the top 10 yielding stocks. The stocks that made the list have to meet their standards for earnings and dividend growth.
- AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE: AZN) yield 5.90%
- Total S.A. (NYSE: TOT) yield 5.0%
- Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) yield 4.30%
- British American Tobacco PLC (NYSEMKT: BTI) yield 4.075%
- Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) yield 3.70%
- The Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE: TD) yield 3.70%
- Northeast Utilities (NYSE: NU) yield 3.57%
- Unilever PLC (NYSE: UL) yield 3.39%
- NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE) yield 3.30%
- Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) yield 3.20%
Stocks that consistently raise their dividends, combined with a strong earnings growth profile, contribute to solid total returns for investors. As we have detailed before, the sell-off in the Treasury and investment grade bond market is not a question of if, but when. Now is the time to take profits in the bond market and scale some money into quality dividend yielding growth stocks.