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Improve Your Retirement Income with These 3 Top-Ranked Dividend Stocks - April 07, 2020

Zacks Equity Research

Here's a revealing data point: older Americans are scared more of outliving wealth than of death itself.

And older Americans have legitimate reasons for this worry, even if they have dutifully saved for their golden years. That's because the traditional ways people manage retirement may no longer provide enough income to meet expenses - and with people generally living longer, the principal retirement savings is exhausted far too early in the retirement period.

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

In the past, investors going into retirement could invest in bonds and count on attractive yields to produce steady, reliable income streams to fund a predictable retirement. 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s hovered around 6.50%, whereas at the time of this article, the current rate is under 2% and looks to stay low thanks to an accommodative Fed.

The effect of this drop in rates is substantial: over 20 years, the change in yield for a $1 million investment in 10-year Treasuries is over $1 million.

Today's retirees are getting hit hard by reduced bond yields - and the Social Security picture isn't too rosy either. Right now and for the near future, Social Security benefits are still being paid, but it has been estimated that the Social Security funds will be depleted as soon as 2035.

How can you avoid dipping into your principal when the investments you counted on in retirement aren't producing income? You can only cut your expenses so far, and the only other option is to find a different investment vehicle to generate income.

Invest in Dividend Stocks

As a replacement for low yielding Treasury bonds (and other bond options), we believe dividend-paying stocks from high quality companies offer low risk and stable, predictable income investors in retirement seek.

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.

One approach to recognizing appropriate stocks is to look for companies with an average dividend yield of 3% and positive average annual dividend growth. Numerous stocks hike dividends over time, counterbalancing inflation risks.

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

Best Buy (BBY) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.55 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.66%. This compares to the Retail - Consumer Electronics industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 2.34%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $2.2 is up 10% from last year.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) is paying out a dividend of 0.45 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.11% compared to the Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry's yield of 2.83% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.8 is up 9.76% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.48 per share, Cardinal Health (CAH) has a dividend yield of 3.9%. This is compared to the Medical - Dental Supplies industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.92 is up 1.01% from last year.

But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?

Overall, that is true. But stocks are a broad class, and you can reduce the risks significantly by selecting high-quality dividend stocks that can generate regular, predictable income and can also decrease the volatility of your portfolio compared to the overall stock market.

An advantage of owning dividend stocks for your retirement nest egg is that numerous companies, particularly blue chip stocks, raise their dividends over time, helping alleviate the impact of inflation on your potential retirement income.

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

If you're interested in investing in dividends, but are thinking about mutual funds or ETFs rather than stocks, beware of fees. Mutual funds and specialized ETFs may carry high fees, which could lower the overall gains you earn from dividends, undercutting your dividend income strategy. Be sure to look for funds with low fees if you decide on this approach.

Bottom Line

Pursuing a dividend investing strategy can help protect your retirement portfolio. Whether you choose to invest in stocks or through low-fee mutual funds or ETFs, this approach can potentially help you achieve a more secure and enjoyable retirement.

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
 
Best Buy Co., Inc. (BBY) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Cardinal Health, Inc. (CAH) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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