Read This Before You Buy A High-Yield Dividend Stock

There are about 13,000 publicly-traded securities on U.S. exchanges. Of those, only about 2,000 of those stocks pay a dividend.

Now, any knucklehead with a computer can generate a list of the market’s highest-yielding stocks in five minutes, but that’s no way to find a good investment. Investing is not as simple as buying anything with a double-digit yield.

I’ve warned my High-Yield Investing premium readers about blindly buying these super-aggressive yielders. Nine times out of 10, a stock yielding more than 15% is likely in big trouble.

But today, I want to show you how I find reliable, healthy dividend-paying stocks. And I’ll explain why they are essential to building long-term wealth…

My 5-Part “Dividend Optimizer” Model

Every security I recommend to High-Yield Investing readers is put through a rigorous analytical boot camp before I even consider mentioning it. I must be sure that a high yield isn’t a trap in disguise.

I start off with a large pool of growing companies yielding at least 5%. Then I run them through my “dividend optimizer” model to make sure they have all these key traits necessary for a steady and lasting income stream:

1. A long history of improving earnings. In general, the longer a firm has been profitable, the more likely it is to deliver steady returns in the coming years.

2. Consistent and growing dividend payments. I want to see steadily increasing dividends with no declines or missed payments.

3. Strong cash flows. Since you can’t pay dividends without cash, I need to find companies that are generating above-average amounts of cash every year.

4. Strong projected growth. Growing firms are more likely to be able to boost their dividends in the future.

5. A sustainable payout ratio. Firms occasionally pay out 100% or more of their earnings to shareholders. They can’t do this for long without cutting their dividend. I avoid unsustainable dividend payouts.

The dividend-payers that I recommend in my High-Yield Investing premium newsletter offer the most compelling risk-reward trade-off you can find. These securities provide a smooth ride while producing market-beating returns, instead of heart-stopping peaks and plunges. Bottom line, they are far less volatile.

The Only Thing Better Than A Generous Dividend

You see, it’s not the specific level of yield that matters to me — although it’s a great feeling to pocket 10% a year in cash. What really counts is that the companies are actually paying them. Dividends are a sign of financial strength; of a real business making real profits.

Dividends require executives to use capital efficiently. Such practices send a clear message that management is treating shareholders right by paying them the profits they deserve as co-owners of the business.

What’s more, a steady stream of dividends indicates that a company keeps straight books. You can hide a lot of bad news with tricky accounting, but you can’t fake dividends.

The only thing better than a generous dividend is a generous and growing dividend. And there’s only one way to consistently raise dividends: by growing cash flow.

Any company that can do that year after year will create a near-miraculous pile of money for you. Here’s what I mean…

Altria (NYSE: MO), which most investors dismiss as a stodgy company, is a perfect example of this phenomenon. There’s nothing fancy about making wine and cigarettes. But it was able to string together a remarkable run of high dividends and 15%-to-20% growth. This led to some of the best long-term returns of any investment of the past two decades.

While $10,000 invested in the S&P 500 in 1997 grew into a substantial $45,500 by 2017, that same $10,000 put into Altria exploded into $223,284. You can attribute the bulk of that remarkable gain to Altria’s decades-long record of high and rising dividends.

Action To Take

To be fair, the Altria story is a particularly strong example of the miracle of compounded dividends. And I wouldn’t recommend adding this stock to your portfolio today.

The point is, finding a company like this by picking one of the 2,000-plus dividend payers out of a hat would be near impossible. But this example is far from unique. With the criteria I outlined above, you can find hidden gems like this with relative ease.

If you think about it, it’s one of the few free lunches in investing: You can get better returns and lower risk just by purchasing dividend-paying stocks. So, if you want to keep your money out of long-term losers like T-bills or CDs and put it to work in tireless investments that will never stop making you money, then High-Yield Investing might be just for you.

If you agree, then I urge you to check out my latest research report, which goes into more depth about how to put high-yield stocks to work for you today. Go here to access my latest report right now.