4 Top Merrill Lynch Buy-Rated Stocks That Yield 5% or More

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Royal Dutch Shell

This company survived last year’s the plunge in oil pricing plunge as good as or better than any other major integrated stock. Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS-A) operates as an independent oil and gas company worldwide through its Upstream and Downstream segments. The company explores for and extracts crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids.

Royal Dutch Shell also converts natural gas to liquids to provide fuels and other products; markets and trades crude oil and natural gas; transports oil; liquefies and transports gas; extracts bitumen from mined oil sands and converts it to synthetic crude oil; and generates electricity from wind energy.

In addition, the company engages in the conversion of crude oil into a range of refined products, including gasoline, diesel, heating oil, aviation fuel, marine fuel, liquefied natural gas for transport, lubricants, bitumen and sulphur; production and sale of petrochemicals for industrial customers; refining; trading and supply; pipelines and marketing; and alternative energy businesses.

Royal Dutch Shell investors are paid a huge 6.42% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $58, but no consensus price target was posted. Shares closed most recently at $49.77.

Windstream Holdings

This telecommunications company has solid dividend coverage and could have sizable upside as well. Windstream Holdings Inc. (NYSE: WIN) is the sixth-largest U.S. incumbent local exchange carrier and the third-largest rural ILEC, serving 3 million access lines, primarily in small markets and rural communities in 16 states. The company offers residential and business customers local voice, long distance, internet access, high-speed data and enhanced services.

The company has been divesting its holdings in Communications Sales and Leasing and recently sold a 50% position, which came to 14.7 million shares. The company is using the proceeds to reduce debt, which the Merrill Lynch analysts feel could be as much as $670 million. The interest expense also will drop dramatically.

Windstream investors receive a nice 6.44% dividend. The $16 Merrill Lynch price target is well above the consensus target of $9.02 and Wednesday’s closing price of $8.99.

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Four top stocks that are a touch more growth portfolio oriented and that also deliver a top dividend payout. All makes sense now in our “lower for longer” dividend world.