Social Security is one piece of the retirement puzzle, but most would benefit from an additional source of income. That's where investing your hard-earned nest egg in income-producing securities comes into the picture. On the stock side of the equation, you should consider Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK), Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE: EPD), and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. (NYSE: SKT). Here's an overview of what you need to know.
1. An energy giant
Duke Energy is a leading U.S. electric and gas utility. It offers investors a 4.2% yield and has paid a dividend for over 90 years, with increases in each of the last 13. That's a pretty good start, especially since the yield offered up by an S&P 500 index fund is only around 2%.
Data source: Getty Images.
Duke is expecting to increase earnings and dividends in the 5% range each year through 2021, backed by $36 billion worth of capital spending plans. Its regulated electric business is its largest, on which it spends roughly $30 billion. As a regulated utility, the company has to have rate increases approved by the government. Generally speaking, the more it spends, the more it can charge its customers. Growth in this segment is what underpins most of Duke's earnings and dividend growth expectations.
The company has also been expanding into the merchant renewable power space and natural gas, including pipelines. These operations are backed by fee-based assets and long-term contracts, but have been growing more quickly than the utility's electric operations, adding both diversification and a touch of growth to Duke's business. All in, this is a pleasantly boring company with realistic growth expectations that will help provide a notable level of current income and, just as importantly, income growth that will help you keep up with inflation.
2. The pipeline king
Enterprise Products Partners is one of the largest and most diversified midstream players in the U.S. It offers a robust 6.4% yield backed by 20 years of annual distribution hikes. Distribution growth is set to slow to around the rate of inflation over the next year or two after hovering in the mid-single-digit space for most of the last decade. But this is a good thing because it will help the energy giant expand more efficiently.
The vast majority of Enterprise's business is fee-based, so the price of oil, natural gas, and other energy products flowing through its system of pipes and facilities is less important than demand. That makes Enterprise a fairly stable business, but because it pays out so much cash to equity unitholders through distributions, it typically has to fund its growth spending by tapping the capital markets. For example, its unit count has increased roughly 20% over the last five years, which has diluted existing investors. The slowdown in distribution growth is meant to free up cash so Enterprise can self-fund more of its expansion plans.
Enterprise's business has been stable despite weak energy prices. Image source: Enterprise Products Partners L.P.
On that score, Enterprise has roughly $9 billion worth of projects currently under construction and a long history of successful execution. Although my near-term expectation is that the distribution will simply keep pace with inflation, once Enterprise completes this reset of its funding approach, I expect distribution growth to pick up again. With the units down by over a third from their mid-2014 highs, it appears to be an opportunistic time to do a deep dive.
3. A real contrarian option
Next up is Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, a real estate investment trust that owns exactly what its name implies: factory outlet centers. The yield is currently around 5.2%, the highest it's been since the deep 2007 to 2009 recession. The dividend has been increased for 24 years at a roughly 6% annual clip over the past decade.
Although it is one of the oldest outlet center owners around, it has a modest but high-quality portfolio of 44 properties. It also has an investment-grade balance sheet, its 2016 distributions only accounted for 55% of its funds from operations, and it has a history of maintaining high occupancy levels even through difficult economic periods. Growth over the next year or so will come from a mall that was opened in late 2017 and an expansion at another asset that was completed shortly thereafter.
Even in tough retail years, Tanger's occupancy rates have remained high. Image source: Tanger Factory Outlet Centers.
Tanger is taking a pause on the construction front to assess the changes taking place in the retail sector. That includes the increasing role of online shopping. Yet with a long history of success, I expect this REIT to adjust as needed and get back to growth when it believes it can profitably do so. As noted above, it has the financial strength to manage through this retail soft spot. It could be hard to own a retail-related name over the near term, but the opportunity to grab a great company offering a high yield is probably worth the risk for most investors.
Three ways to go
Duke, Enterprise, and Tanger all offer notable yields and long histories of rewarding their shareholders with regular and growing income streams. Duke is the most boring story here, and probably the safest option. Enterprise is shifting gears to improve its business, which is worth the near-term slowdown in distribution growth. That's especially true since the units are so far off their highs. And Tanger is dealing with a tough retail environment, but doing so from a position of strength -- the sell-off in the shares is an opportunity to buy an industry-leading name. All three will help you supplement your Social Security check, and if history is any guide, keep up with or beat inflation.
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