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How to Maximize Your Retirement Portfolio with These Top-Ranked Dividend Stocks - January 23, 2020

Zacks Equity Research

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

And retirees have good reason to be worried about making their assets last. People are living longer, so that money has to cover a longer period. Making matters worse, income generated using tried - and - true retirement planning approaches may not cover expenses these days. That means seniors must dip into principal to meet living expenses.

In today's economic environment, traditional income investments are not working.

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.

While this yield reduction may not seem drastic, it adds up: for a $1 million investment in 10-year Treasuries, the rate drop means a difference in yield of 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

As we see it, dividend-paying stocks from generally low-risk, top notch companies are a brilliant way to create steady and solid income streams to supplant current low risk, low yielding Treasury and fixed-income alternatives.

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 way to identify suitable candidates is to look for stocks with an average dividend yield of 3%, and positive average annual dividend growth. Many stocks increase dividends over time, helping to offset the effects of inflation.

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

General Mills (GIS) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.49 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.63%. This compares to the Food - Miscellaneous industry's yield of 0.25% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.77%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.96 is flat compared to last year.

Independent Bank (IBCP) is paying out a dividend of 0.18 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.24% compared to the Banks - Midwest industry's yield of 2.32% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.72 is up 20% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.31 per share, Invesco (IVZ) has a dividend yield of 6.7%. This is compared to the Financial - Investment Management industry's yield of 2.23% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.24 is up 3.33% from last year.

But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?

It is true that stocks, as an asset class, carry more risk than bonds, but high-quality dividend stocks not only have the ability to produce income growth over time but more importantly, can also reduce your overall portfolio volatility relative to the broader stock market.

A silver lining to owning dividend stocks for your retirement portfolio is that many companies, especially blue chip stocks, increase their dividends over time, helping offset the effects of inflation on your potential retirement income.

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

You may be thinking, "I like this dividend strategy, but instead of investing in individual stocks, I'm going to find a dividend-focused mutual fund or ETF." This approach can make sense, but be aware that some mutual funds and specialized ETFs carry high fees, which may reduce your dividend gains or income, and defeat the goal of this dividend investment approach. If you do wish to invest in a fund, do your research to find the best-quality dividend funds with the lowest fees.

Bottom Line

Regardless of whether you select high-quality, low-fee funds or stocks, looking for a steady stream of income from dividend-paying equities can potentially lead you to a solid and more peaceful 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

Get Your FREE Guide Now General Mills, Inc. (GIS) : Free Stock Analysis Report Independent Bank Corporation (IBCP) : Free Stock Analysis Report Invesco Ltd. (IVZ) : Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here.