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3 High-Yield Stocks to Hold Forever

Chris Neiger, Anders Bylund, and Chuck Saletta, The Motley Fool

Dividend investors are often on the lookout for high-yield stocks that will pay them well. But they should also be looking for strong companies that have what it takes to not just pay high yields over the short term, but that can pay their investors for many years to come.

To help income investors find these stocks, we asked three Motley Fool contributors to talk about high-yield dividend stocks that investors can consider holding forever, and they came back with Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI), Omega Healthcare Investors (NYSE: OHI), and International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM).

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This fallen giant is getting back up

Anders Bylund (Pitney Bowes): At 5.7%, Pitney Bowes' dividend yield is running near four-year highs. As recently as the summer of 2014, the yield sunk all the way down to 2.7% -- still respectable, but a far cry from the generous effective payouts investors are getting today.

I realize that the postage management veteran hasn't increased its quarterly payouts at all in the last four years, following a 50% dividend cut at the end of 2013. Many hallmarks of a traditional long-term dividend play are missing here. But that dividend-slashing event was exactly what Pitney Bowes needed at the time -- the company's plunging cash flows stabilized immediately, allowing the board and management some flexibility in finding a new path forward.

That new path includes expanding beyond the traditional mail management market, applying the lessons learned in 100 years of mailing operations to the vibrant parcel-shipping industry. The company is not trying to become a rival of Federal Express (NYSE: FDX) and United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), but it hopes to help shippers like these giants simplify and tighten up their operations.

If you thought that shipping management was a solved problem, Pitney Bowes would disagree. Anecdotally speaking, I recently had an important package air-shipped from Orlando to Tampa -- both in Florida -- using one of the major shippers' next-day service. According to the package tracker, that trip was made via a shipping hub in Kentucky. This shipment was delivered on time, but after a 1,700-mile roundtrip. On the highways, a truck could have completed the same delivery in a two-hour drive.

The greater point I'm making here is, Pitney Bowes still has a place in this ever-changing world -- even if many investors are ready to give up on both the company and the stock. I think this centennial business will stick around for decades to come, always ready to adapt to the environment. Dividend boosts should return soon enough, and new investors already start out at a fantastic yield.

A business poised for the demographics of the future

Chuck Saletta (Omega Healthcare Investors): If you're looking for a company worthy of holding forever, that company needs to be well positioned to thrive well into the long-term future. Few companies are capable of lasting for the very long term, and even fewer of those pay out high dividends. One business that looks like it may be capable of doing so, though, is senior care facility owner Omega Healthcare Investors.

A company involved in the sale and leaseback of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, Omega Healthcare Investors is poised to profit from America's aging population. Demographic trends continue to skew toward a rising senior population for decades to come. As a result, a business like Omega Healthcare Investors, which focuses on needs that disproportionately address seniors, stands to benefit.

As a Real Estate Investment Trust, Omega Healthcare Investors is required to pay out at least 90% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. That means it will generally pay out a high dividend as long as it is profitable. Indeed, its current yield is above 9%, and unlike many high-yielding companies, its dividend has actually been trending upwards, while still being generally covered by its operating cash flows. 

Even better, with a balance sheet that sports a reasonable 1.2 debt to equity ratio and a current ratio above 3, that dividend doesn't look to be at near-term risk due to financing concerns. A covered and growing dividend combined with a reasonable balance sheet and a business that serves a growing demographic segment gives Omega Healthcare Industries a decent chance of thriving for a long time to come. And that makes it worthy of consideration for a long-term holding.

A tech stalwart still aiming for the clouds

Chris Neiger (IBM): Some investors may be a little skeptical to see IBM on this list, but let me explain. First, IBM has a very generous dividend yield of 3.65% right now, it has a payout ratio of just 48.4%, and it has raised its dividend for 22 consecutive years. Second, the company is undergoing some major changes right that could ensure the company continues to be stable for years to come.

Specifically, IBM is transitioning from to more cloud computing services and away from some of its legacy hardware businesses. Tech giants like IBM have had to come to grips with shifting customer preferences who now prefer cloud-based services over one-time hardware sales. That's caused IBM's revenue to suffer over the past few years -- its sales have fallen for 22 consecutive quarters. But there are plenty of signs of life.

IBM's cloud revenue jumped 20% year over year in the third quarter 2017, and over the past 12 months, $15.8 billion of IBM's sales can be attributed to its cloud segment -- which now accounts for 20% of the company's total revenue. IBM is also looking to artificial intelligence (AI) for more growth, and it's pairing its cloud computing services and AI (like its Watson technology) together to take advantage of both of these growing markets.

IBM's CFO, Martin Schroeter, said on the company's third-quarter analyst call:

We're embedding cloud and cognitive capabilities across our business, and our strategic imperatives, as we said, are signposts of the progress we're making in helping our enterprise clients to extract value from data and become digital businesses.

IBM believes the cognitive computing market could be worth $2 trillion by 2025 and is already integrating its Watson AI services into its healthcare, financial, and other services to extract value from this growing segment.

The company is building out a new foundation on cloud computing, and AI that could put IBM on strong footing for years to come. With the company's share price currently trading at just 11.8 times IBM's forward earnings, income investors can snatch up this high-yield dividend stock at a discount -- and hold on to it for the long haul.

More From The Motley Fool

Anders Bylund owns shares of IBM. Chris Neiger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Chuck Saletta owns shares of IBM and has the following options: long January 2020 $160 calls on IBM, short January 2020 $160 puts on IBM, short January 2019 $165 calls on IBM, long January 2020 $27 calls on Omega Healthcare Investors, short January 2020 $27 puts on Omega Healthcare Investors, short March 2018 $24 puts on Omega Healthcare Investors, and short March 2018 $30 calls on Omega Healthcare Investors. The Motley Fool recommends FedEx. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.