By the Numbers

Dissecting S&P 500 Dividends: Highest Yielding Stocks


This morning on Squawk on the Street, Erin Burnett interviewed Joe Keating, Chief Investment Officer of RBC Bank's Private Asset Management about dividend plays.  Mr. Keating advised CNBC viewers to look for solid stocks with good dividends.  Some of his recommendations include Consumer Staples, Utilities, Telecoms and Healthcare stocks.

Here are some of the highest yielding stocks on the S&P. 

S&P 500 Dividend Breakdown by Sector

A review of the S&P 500 reveals that about 73% of its components are currently paying a dividend, with an average yield of 2.94%, and a median value of 2.47%.

A breakdown of the S&P 500 by sector also shows that telecommunications, utilities, and consumer staples companies, as depicted on the table to the left, have on average the highest dividend yields.  Currently, the utilities sector has the highest number of companies paying a dividend, with 94% of its components offering such payouts, while the telecoms have the highest average yield of 8.7%.  

As investors debate whether a 36.02% gain for the S&P 500 since its March 9th low is sustainable, dividends could serve to help minimize any potential pullbacks.

Impact of the Rally

The markets rebound from their March lows has pushed yields down further (Yield = Dividends / Price.  As prices rise, yields fall). Since mid March, for example, the percent of stocks with dividends yielding less than 2% has jumped 30%. As displayed on the chart below, approximately 56% of companies in the S&P 500 have yields less than 4%, with fewer companies driving up the overall average.  Also note that approximately a quarter of all the companies within the S&P 500 do not pay a dividend. 

The following chart portrays the distribution of all the companies in the S&P 500, according to their corresponding dividend yields.

The tables on the next few pages depict some of the companies in the S&P 500 with dividend yields north of 3%. The yields on these companies are based on the most recent data from Thomson Reuters.  Note that dividends are not guaranteed, as has been the case with various companies in the past six months, either raising or halting dividend payouts. 

As always, keep in mind that the information should help you generate ideas, but there is more homework to be done, especially with stocks paying dividend yields above 7%. 

Stocks with yields over 6% on the next page

Stocks yielding over 8%

Stocks yielding 6-8%

Stocks yielding over 8%

Stocks yielding 4-6%

Stocks yielding 4-6%

Stocks with yields between 3-4%

Stocks yielding 3-4%:

Data Source:  Thomson Reuters