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Whether or not the stock market continues to rally, Jim Cramer recommends investors seek the protection of stocks with serious dividends. After all, if the stock market falls and the economy worsens, dividend-paying stocks will pay investors to wait until things get better.
The "Mad Money" host especially likes “accidental high-yielders” — the stocks with small payouts that wouldn’t ordinarily offer high yields. Because of downward pressure in the markets, which has hurt their share prices, those yields have shot up. So now investors get more bang for their bucks.
The added benefit of owning these kinds of stocks is that the newly high yields attract new buyers, and that puts a floor in the share price. Not only do investors get to collect the payout on the way down, but they can also ride the stock higher on the way back up.
We pulled together a list of Cramer's favorite dividend plays. Read on and pick one or two for your portfolio. They could offer just the kind of defense that you need.
By Drew Sandholm with Reuters
Posted 30 April 2012
When this slideshow was published, Cramer's charitable trust owned Abbott Laboratories, Coca-Cola, DuPont and International Paper.
Abbott Laboratories is a drug manufacturer based in Abbott Park, Ill. The cornerstone of its pharmaceutical business is Humira, a best-selling arthritis drug that was recently approved in Europe for ulcerative colitis. Humira, one of the world's biggest-selling drugs with sales forecast by analysts to be around $9 billion this year, is the first self-injectable biologic therapy for ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease that causes ulcers in the colon.
Cramer likes that its stock currently pays a 3.4 percent dividend yield, too.
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, American Electric Power engages in the generation, transmission and distribution of electric power. Not only is it one of the top generators, Cramer said it boasts the largest transmission system. He likes its juicy 4.9 percent dividend yield and said it's likely safe for now.
Cramer likes Clorox because it makes everything from cleaning products, such as Pine-Sol, to cat litter under the Fresh Step brand, as well as Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing and Kingsford’s charcoal, among many other products. People don't stop buying these items because of the economic slowdown, Cramer said. The company does have to deal with rising commodity costs and it's also facing competition from generic brands, but he thinks these issues are already baked into the stock.
Clorox is selling for 16 times earnings, with a 10 percent growth rate. It also pays a 3.5 percent dividend yield. Cramer recommends investors start building a position now and buy more on the way down.
Coca-Cola is the world’s biggest soft-drink maker. The Atlanta-based company sells its products primarily under the Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle brand names. Last Tuesday, the company reported a “knockout” quarter that showed considerable growth, beating Wall Street’s expectations.
“If Coke can report numbers this good when things are going against them on every front, just imagine how well this company could do when things are finally going their way,” Cramer said.
In terms of its stock, Cramer likes that it currently pays a 2.8 percent dividend yield. He would wait for a pullback before buying shares, though.
ConocoPhillips is the ultimate paid-to-wait name, Cramer said. The Houston-based oil company is embarking on a massive restructuring that will ultimately lighten its debt load, provide greater exposure to finding and producing oil instead of simply refining it, and also increase its dividend. To execute this plan, ConocoPhillips is selling billions of dollars worth of assets and buying back billions of dollars worth of stock. It also plans to split the company into two parts, which Cramer thinks will unlock value for shareholders. The final split between ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 was approved by the board and formally takes place May 1.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy is “doing everything right to grow its business,” Cramer said. The electric utility is still working on a plan to win U.S. approval for its proposed takeover of Progress Energy after failing to overcome regulators' fears the combined company would have too much power. Duke had hoped to wrap up the planned $13.7 billion merger with Progress in December, but federal regulators rejected the companies' "virtual divestiture" strategy that was designed to limit its wholesale market strength in North and South Carolina.
“Even if the government won’t let it [takeover Progress Energy], Duke will still do just fine,” Cramer said, noting its stock currently pays a juicy dividend yield of 4.7 percent.
E. I. du Pont de Nemours is probably better known as DuPont, Cramer said. Either way, he likes the stock’s 3 percent dividend yield.
The diversified chemicals company is not as levered to housing as people realize, Cramer continued. It also has an agriculture segment and while some think farming is a bad place to be, he said the world's population only continues to grow. All of those people need to eat, he noted, and DuPont's fertilizers help farmers get more crops out of the same amount of land.
Eaton is one of the best accidental high-yielding stocks today, Cramer said. The Cleveland-based company makes an array of electrical components and systems, including those for the auto and aerospace industries. Despite weakness in the global economy, Eaton remains a top brand in each of its markets thanks to superior technology. Cramer thinks that going forward its end markets will continue to gain strength. Its strong balance sheet is also a plus.
This stock is cheap on both a yield and earnings basis, Cramer said. It boasts a 3.1 percent dividend yield. As an accidental high-yielder, its yield will rise as the stock price falls. So those interested in playing this stock should buy in wide scales on the way down based on the yield.
Cramer likes the oil and gas pipelines industry because many pipeline companies pay rich dividends. Energy Transfer Partners is certainly no exception, being as its stock currently sports a 7.6 percent dividend yield.
Based in Dallas, Energy Transfer Partners engages in the transportation of natural gas and nat gas liquids through an extensive pipeline. It also runs natural gas processing plants and treating facilities. Between natural gas and nat gas liquids, the company is focusing more on nat gas liquids because it drives more demand, Cramer said. It also sold off its propane business, a move Cramer praised because the propane business is struggling right now.
Watch the video to see his recent interview with CEO Kelcy Warren.
Not only is the utilities sector one of Cramer's favorite places to hide in a tough market, he thinks FirstEnergy could be the “biggest utility winner from the EPA’s new emissions regulations.” The company gets 90 percent of its output from either nuclear or scrubbed coal that’s already cleaner than what the Environmental Protection Agency requires. Meanwhile, it's also benefiting from its acquisition of Allegheny in 2011.
FirstEnergy currently boasts a 4.8 percent dividend yield and Cramer thinks it's worth a look.
General Mills is "as recession-resistant as it gets," Cramer said. Its 3.2 percent dividend yield is not as high as other stocks he's drawn attention to lately, but Cramer said the company is a lot more consistent than just about anything out there.
International Paper, a paper and packaging company headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., is a classic cyclical business that has refused to be dragged down by a weak economy. Instead, it has taken control of its own destiny through good management and smart acquisitions.
Cramer thinks IP is worth considering. It sports a 3.2 percent dividend yield, so investors are paid to hold onto it. Its yield goes up as the stock price goes down, he explained. So for those who buy IP, the worst thing that could happen is the stock falls and the investor could buy more shares with a higher yield. He recommends buying IP now and using the dividends to buy more shares.
Microchip Technologies makes the microcontrollers, or chips, that go into simple electronic devices, among other products. Cramer likes the Chandler, Ariz.-based semiconductor because it has an attractive risk-reward and pays a high dividend yield. At 4 percent, its dividend yield is the highest in all the semiconductor space.
In addition, Cramer said it's likely to benefit from positive long-term trends. Demand in the wireless space is growing, and that could benefit Microchip Technology.
Cramer recommends investors do their homework on this stock and consider starting a position.
From Alzheimer’s disease to erectile dysfunction and multiple sclerosis, New York-based Pfizer provides pharmaceutical products in an array of areas. Last week, the drug maker sold its infant nutrition business to Swiss food group Nestle for $11.85 billion. The acquisition is still subject to regulatory approval, but Cramer is excited about it nevertheless.
If approved, Cramer thinks the dividend can go higher. “Even if the stock does nothing, you’re going to be a big winner in a tough market.”
After all, the biotechnology company’s stock currently sports a 3.8 dividend yield.
Verizon Communications posted higher quarterly earnings and revenue that grew 4.6 percent, as it added new mobile subscribers. To Cramer, Wall Street didn’t give Verizon enough credit. Although the wireless provider reported strong numbers, “people just yawned.”
But Cramer thinks investors should wake up to this telecom. The New York-based company is adding new mobile customers and has no exposure to Europe, Cramer said. Plus, its stock pays a 5.1 percent dividend yield right now.
Cramer likes stocks with safe, juicy dividend yields, but loves companies with a history of boosting their dividends. Waste Management has increased its dividend by 81 percent over the last seven years. Going forward, Cramer thinks it has room to keep increasing the payout. The stock currently yields 3.9 percent.
In addition to paying a dividend, the company owns the nation’s largest network of landfills, which are scarce and time-consuming to build.
To play it, Cramer suggests buying a small position in Waste Management now and then buying in wide scales on the way down.