Investing

The Highest Paying S&P 500 Dividend Stocks Also May Be Among the Best Second-Half Ideas

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Investors love dividend stocks. They not only provide dependable income, but they also give investors a great opportunity for solid total return. Total return includes interest, capital gains, dividends and distributions realized over time. In other words, the total return on an investment or a portfolio includes both dividend income and stock appreciation.

We screened our 24/7 Wall St. research database looking for companies in the S&P 500 that were rated Buy at major Wall Street firms that also paid the highest dividends in the venerable index. We found seven that look like great ideas for income-oriented investors searching for some upside appreciation as well. It is important to remember that no single analyst report should be used as a sole basis for any buying or selling decision.

Altria

This maker of tobacco products offers value investors a great entry point now as it has been hit as cigarette sales have slowed. Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) is the parent company of Philip Morris USA (cigarettes), UST (smokeless), John Middleton (cigars), Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Philip Morris Capital. PMUSA enjoys a 51% share of the U.S. cigarette market, led by its top cigarette brand Marlboro.

Altria also owns over 10% of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer. In 2008, it spun off its international cigarette business to shareholders. The stock was pounded recently, as last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the ban of all sales of Juul vape pens. This decision was made after pleas from government officials and public health institutes that say Juul is focused on selling its nicotine products to teenagers. A court has granted Juul’s request for a stay on the ban, allowing the company to still sell the products while an appeal is made on the decision.

While this gets sorted out, it is a good bet that investors will still receive a giant 8.61% dividend. Deutsche Bank has a $46 target price on Altria stock. The consensus target is higher at $52.33. The shares closed Thursday at $41.81.

AT&T

The legacy telecommunications company has been going through a long restructuring, has lowered its dividend and has sold off or merged underperforming assets. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) provides telecommunications, media and technology services worldwide.

The Communications segment offers wireless voice and data communications services and sells handsets, wireless data cards, wireless computing devices with carrying cases and hands-free devices through its own company-owned stores, agents and third-party retail stores.
AT&T also provides data, voice, security, cloud solutions, outsourcing and managed and professional services, as well as customer premises equipment for multinational corporations, small and midsized businesses, and governmental and wholesale customers. In addition, it offers broadband fiber and legacy telephony voice communication services to residential customers.

The company markets its communications services and products under the AT&T, Cricket, AT&T Prepaid and AT&T Fiber brand names. The company’s Latin America segment provides wireless services in Mexico and video services in Latin America. This segment markets its services and products under the AT&T and Unefon brand names.

AT&T stock investors receive a 5.25% dividend. Goldman Sachs has set a $23 price objective, in the same ballpark as the $23.23 consensus target. The stock was last seen on Thursday at $21.15.

Devon Energy

This may be one of the best value propositions in the sector, as it uses a variable dividend strategy. Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) is an independent energy company that primarily engages in the exploration, development and production of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) in the United States and Canada. It operates approximately 19,000 wells.

The company also offers midstream energy services, including gathering, transmission, processing, fractionation and marketing to producers of natural gas, NGLs, crude oil and condensate through its natural gas pipelines, plants and treatment facilities.

Production is weighted toward crude oil while growth opportunities are liquids focused, anchored by the Delaware Basin, SCOOP/STACK, Eagle Ford Shale, Canadian Oil Sands, and the Barnett. Devon also owns equity in the publicly traded midstream MLP EnLink.

Shareholders receive a 6.71% dividend. Truist Financial’s target price is $103, well above the $80.10 consensus target. Devon Energy stock closed over 5% higher on Thursday at $53.67.

IBM

This blue-chip giant is still offering investors a very solid entry point. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) provides integrated solutions and services worldwide through these four business segments.

The Software segment offers hybrid cloud platform and software solutions, such as Red Hat, an enterprise open-source solutions; software for business automation, AIOps and management, integration, and application servers; data and artificial intelligence solutions; and security software and services for threat, data and identity. This segment also provides transaction processing software that supports clients’ mission-critical and on-premise workloads in banking, airlines and retail industries.
The Consulting segment offers business transformation services, including strategy, business process design and operations, data and analytics, and system integration services; technology consulting services; and application and cloud platform services.

The Infrastructure segment provides on-premises and cloud-based server and storage solutions for its clients’ mission-critical and regulated workloads; and support services and solutions for hybrid cloud infrastructure, as well as remanufacturing and remarketing services for used equipment.

The Financing segment offers lease, installment payment, loan financing and short-term working capital financing services.

IBM reported very solid first-quarter results, and top Wall Street analysts are very positive on the company following through in the second quarter with more stellar earnings and revenue growth.

IBM stock comes with a 4.69% dividend. The $165 BofA Securities price target compares with a $143.63 consensus target and Thursday’s closing print of $140.83.

Kinder Morgan

This is one of the largest natural gas infrastructure companies in the world. Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI) operates through the following segments.

The Natural Gas Pipelines segment owns and operates interstate and intrastate natural gas pipelines and underground storage systems; natural gas gathering systems and natural gas processing and treating facilities; NGLs fractionation facilities and transportation systems; and LNG liquefaction and storage facilities.

The Products Pipelines segment owns and operates refined petroleum products and crude oil and condensate pipelines, as well as associated product terminals and petroleum pipeline transmix facilities.

The Terminals segment at Kinder Morgan owns or operates liquids and bulk terminals that store and handle various commodities, including gasoline, diesel fuel, chemicals, ethanol, metals and petroleum coke. It also owns tankers.

The CO2 segment produces, transports and markets CO2 to recover and produce crude oil from mature oil fields, and it owns interests in or operates oil fields and gasoline processing plants, as well as operates a crude oil pipeline system in West Texas. It owns and operates approximately 83,000 miles of pipelines and 144 terminals.

Shareholders receive a 6.57% dividend. The Kinder Morgan price target at Truist Financial is $22. The consensus target is $20.37, and Thursday’s closing print of $16.89 was up over 3% for the day.

Simon Property

Shares of this leading company have been pounded and are offering the best entry point since last year. Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG) is a very strong company for investors looking to play the industry. It invests in real estate markets across the globe. It engages in investment, ownership, management and development of properties. The company primarily invests in regional malls, premium outlets, mills and community/lifestyle centers to create its portfolio.

Through its subsidiary partnership, Simon Property owns or has an interest in about 230 properties in the United States and Asia. The company also has a 28.9% interest in Klepierre, a European REIT with over 260 shopping centers in 13 countries.

Shareholders receive a 6.95% distribution. The Stifel team has a price target of $165. The consensus price target for Simon Property stock is $142.80, and shares ended trading Thursday at $97.88.

Williams Companies

This top energy company is a solid pick for investors who are more conservative and looking for exposure to LNG. Williams Companies Inc. (NYSE: WMB) operates as an energy infrastructure company primarily in the United States.

Its Transmission & Gulf of Mexico segment comprises Transco and Northwest natural gas pipelines, as well as natural gas gathering and processing, and crude oil production handling and transportation assets in the Gulf Coast region. The Northeast G&P segment engages in the midstream gathering, processing and fractionation activities in the Marcellus Shale region, primarily in Pennsylvania and New York, and the Utica Shale region of eastern Ohio.

The West segment comprises gas gathering, processing and treating operations in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado and Wyoming, the Barnett Shale region of north-central Texas, the Eagle Ford Shale region of South Texas, the Haynesville Shale region of northwest Louisiana and the Mid-Continent region, which includes the Anadarko, Arkom, and Permian basins. It also includes NGL and natural gas marketing operations, as well as storage facilities.

Shareholders receive a 5.59% dividend. A $40 price objective accompanies Raymond James’s Strong Buy rating. The consensus target is $37.86. Thursday’s $31.18 close for Williams Companies stock was almost a 5% gain on the day.


Seven top companies that are the highest yielding stocks in the venerable S&P 500 index and all seven offer investors outstanding entry points, are Buy rated at top Wall Street firms and have a reasonably strong moat around their businesses. Buying stocks that will pay dependable dividends until the current economic mess is sorted out makes total sense now. It also makes sense to perhaps buy partial positions in front of second-quarter results, which will begin in earnest next week.

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