There are currently 14,003 publically-traded securities on U.S. exchanges. Of those, there are 2,181 stocks currently paying 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.
A while back on StreetAuthority.com, I warned against blindly buying these super-aggressive yielders because "nine times out of 10, a stock yielding more than 15% is likely in big trouble."
But today, I will reveal how I find reliable, healthy dividend-paying stocks and why they are essential to building long-term wealth.
Ignoring This Event Could Cost You A 6-Figure Payday
Every security I recommend to readers is put through an 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 advisory 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.
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.
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 with its high dividends and years of 15%-to-20% growth, Altria has thrown off 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 mid-1988 grew into a substantial $78,677 by 2018, that same $10,000 put into Altria exploded into $499,176. You can attribute the bulk of that remarkable 50-fold gain to Altria's decades-long record of high and rising dividends.
And believe it or not, these Altria investors incurred 22% less risk than the market during their 26-year ride.
To be fair, the Altria story is a particularly strong example of the miracle of compounded dividends. But it's far from unique. You can find similar results from any number of steady-but-unspectacular stocks with long-term records of high and rising dividends.
Don't get me wrong, though -- these stocks don't grow on trees. Finding a company like this by picking one of the 2,181 dividend payers out of a hat would be near impossible. But with the criteria I outlined above, you could find hidden gems like Altria -- or any one of my High-Yield Investing portfolio holdings -- with relative ease.
If you're tired of settling for the paltry yields being offered by most stocks -- and don't want to take on a lot of risk, either -- then my team and I are here to help. 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 read the full report now.