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S&P 500's Biggest Dividend Yields

Especially in volatile times, dividends can be a way for investors to more effectively safeguard returns. Many publicly held corporations pay out a portion of their earnings to shareholders, giving investors a payback whether the stock price goes up or down. Cramer's Rule Number Four in his "15 Rules for Playing Defense" calls these "buffers."

Calculated as a percentage of share price, dividends have the potential to be cut or changed and yields vary as share prices fluctuate. For the purposes of this report, dividend yield calculations are based on trailing dividends, so dividend cuts yet to occur have not been taken into account. In fact, the #1 company on this list announced a cut in its dividend earlier this year, from $1 to $0.75, but in all likelihood it would remain in the top spot, given its current share price.

Be sure to check whether a dividend is set to change or if new announcements come out regarding changes before you buy, as they occur at a company's discretion. Often, a dividend yield that is too high may be more of a warning sign than an opportunity.

So, what are the biggest dividend yields on the S&P 500? Click ahead to find out!

By Ariel Nelson and Paul Toscano
Posted 13 Oct 2009