Dividends are often treated like the side dish of the investment world. Lacking the inherent sexiness of price returns, dividends are more notable when they don't arrive than when they do. And dividend returns are often forgotten in discussions of stock moves.
But investors ignore the dividend component of equity returns at their own peril. While the S&P 500 has risen 490 percent since 1990, investors who reinvested their dividends into the index have seen a total return of 919 percent. And in an average year, reinvested dividends have increased the S&P's return by 32 percent.
It's in that context that the following five stocks, which investors might count among the most boring names in the S&P 500, become truly gripping. That's because each enjoys a dividend yield greater than 6 percent.
The two stocks with the fattest yields, Frontier Communications and CenturyLink, are both in the telecom services industry. That set of stocks is known for fat dividends, as investors in AT&T (yielding 5.5 percent) and Verizon (4.6 percent) know well.
When it comes to the lesser-known Frontier and CenturyLink, the steep decline in the shares this year—each stock has slid about 20 percent—has something to do with it. Since the denominator of the dividend/share price equation has fallen while the dividend size has remained static, both stocks have seen their yields increase. And according to Macquarie analyst Kevin Smithen, "both dividends are sustainable for at least three years."
The stock with the third-biggest dividend, Mattel, has also dropped dramatically in 2015. But its now-fat dividend has not escaped the attention of investors; Piper Jaffray analyst Stephanie Wissink titled a Wednesday note "Fundamentals vs. Dividend Debate Continues."
Wissink is none too bullish on the company, but says that in contrast to many other Mattel watchers, she does not expect the company to announce a dividend cut in September. That's largely because the relevant payment date is in late November, which is among the company's "peak cash conversion weeks of the year." Translation: They'll have the money on hand.
Rounding out the list are natural gas master limited partnership ONEOK, and document storage company Iron Mountain, which operates as a REIT, thanks to an IRS ruling that steel storage racks are considered real estate.
Similar to their fellow high yielders, both ONEOK and Iron Mountain have fallen more than 20 percent on the year.