There's nothing for sure when it comes to investing. But buying stocks that are just about to go "ex-dividend" might be the closest thing to an exception.
There are 12 stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 index that pay dividend yields that are 3% or higher (more than the market's average of about 2%), including Altria, Williams and Clorox, that are about to go ex-dividend between now through July, says market research firm Bespoke Investment Group. Investors who buy the stocks before the ex-dividend date are entitled to receive the already-declared dividend when it's paid in the subsequent weeks.
Tobacco company Altria is the company nearing an ex-dividend date that pays the biggest dividend yield. Investors that buy the stock before June 12 are entitled to a 4.6% dividend yield that's payable on July 10. An investor who puts $10,000 into the stock will be entitled to the quarterly dividend worth $460.
Investors who buy before the ex-dividend date can count on the next dividend payment, but there's still risk. Typically, all things held equal, the price of the stock falls on the ex-dividend date by the amount of the dividend. That means while investors can count on the dividend cash coming their way, the value of the stock falls by the amount of the dividend.
And lastly, while there's no reason to expect that these companies wouldn't pay the dividends they declared, nothing's for sure until it's in your hand.
Below are the S&P 500 companies paying dividend yields of 3% or higher with ex-dividend dates through July and expected to boost dividends by 3% or more over the next three years:
—By Matt Krantz, USA Today