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3 Top Dividend Stocks to Maximize Your Retirement Income

Zacks Equity Research

Believe it or not, seniors fear running out of cash more than they fear dying.

And unfortunately, even retirees who have built a nest egg have good reason to be concerned - with the traditional approaches to retirement planning, income may no longer cover expenses. That means retirees are dipping into principal to make ends meet, setting up a race against time between dwindling investment balances and longer lifespans.

Retirement investing approaches of the past don't work today.

For many years, bonds or other fixed-income assets could produce the yield needed to provide solid income for retirement needs. However, these yields have dwindled over time: 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s were around 6.50%, but today, that rate is a thing of the past, with a slim likelihood of rates making a comeback in the foreseeable future.

That means if you had $1 million in 10-year Treasuries, the difference in yield between 1999 and today is more than $1 million.

In addition to the considerable drop in bond yields, today's retirees are nervous about their future Social Security benefits. Because of certain demographic factors, it's been estimated that the funds that pay the Social Security benefits will run out of money in 2035.

Unfortunately, it looks like the two traditional sources of retirement income - bonds and Social Security - may not be able to adequately meet the needs of present and future retirees. But what if there was another option that could provide a steady, reliable source of income in retirement?

Invest in Dividend Stocks

We feel that these dividend-paying equities - as long as they are from high-quality, low-risk issuers - can give retirement investors a smart option to replace low-yielding Treasury bonds (or other bonds).

For example, AT&T and Coca-Cola are income stocks with attractive dividend yields of 3% or better. Look for stocks like this that have paid steady, increasing dividends for years (or decades), and have not cut their dividends even during recessions.

Going beyond those familiar names, you can find excellent dividend-paying stocks by following a few guidelines. Look for companies that pay a dividend yield of around 3%, with positive annual dividend growth. The growth rate is key to help combat the effects of inflation.

Here are three dividend-paying stocks retirees should consider for their nest egg portfolio.

Brinker International (EAT) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.38 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.3%. This compares to the Retail - Restaurants industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.83%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.52 is flat compared to last year.

Exelon (EXC) is paying out a dividend of 0.36 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.26% compared to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 2.86% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.45 is up 5.07% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.27 per share, Federated Investors (FII) has a dividend yield of 3.22%. This is compared to the Financial - Investment Management industry's yield of 2.52% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.08 is flat compared to last year.

But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?

The fact is that stocks, as an asset class, carry more risk than bonds. To counterbalance this, invest in superior quality dividend stocks that not only can grow over time but more significantly, can also decrease your overall portfolio volatility with respect to the broader stock market.

An upside to adding dividend stocks to your retirement portfolio: they can help lessen the effects of inflation, since many dividend-paying companies (especially blue chip stocks) generally increase their dividends over time.

Thinking about dividend-focused mutual funds or ETFs? Watch out for fees.

If you're thinking, "I want to invest in a dividend-focused ETF or mutual fund," make sure to do your homework. It's important to know that some mutual funds and specialized ETFs charge high fees, which may diminish your dividend gains or income and thwart the overall objective of this investment strategy. If you do want to invest in fund, research well to identify the best-quality dividend funds with the least charges.

Bottom Line

Seeking steady, consistent income through dividends can be a smart option for financial security in retirement, whether you invest in mutual funds, ETFs, or in dividend-paying stocks.

Generating income is just one aspect of planning for a comfortable retirement.

To learn more ways to maximize your assets - and avoid pitfalls that could jeopardize your financial security - download our free report:

Will You Retire a Multi-Millionaire? 7 Things You Can Do Now


This helpful guide offers our viewpoints about strategic retirement investment planning, based on decades of experience helping our clients prepare for financial security during their golden years. Get Your FREE Guide Now
 
Brinker International, Inc. (EAT) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Exelon Corporation (EXC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Federated Investors, Inc. (FII) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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