Dissecting S&P 500 Dividends

As market participants anticipate possible stagnant growth in the coming quarters, investors might be more apt to get back to "old fashioned" investing with higher-yielding stocks.

Amid the current market environment, should investors feel safe reaching for the carrot? "Dividends are an important source of income for many investors, accounting for about half of an investor's total return historically," said Tim O'Brien, Manager of the Evergreen Global Dividend Opportunity Fund. According to Mr. O’Brien, investors looking for dividend-yielding stocks should limit their exposure to financial companies, and look for higher-yielding preferred shares in addition to common stocks. Mr. O’Brien suggests considering companies in the utilities sector, since some of these companies provide relatively stable business models reflecting their longevity. "A company that is in a position to raise its dividend, it's obviously a company that's doing well."

According to Don Taylor, Manager of the Franklin Rising Dividends Fund, investors should also consider companies that continuously increase their dividends. Some of the sectors that Mr. Taylor favors include consumer staples, consumer discretionary, and diversified industrials. He suggests looking at companies with fairly stable business models and recurring revenue. "The sell-off that we have seen in many of these companies in the past year, makes it an attractive opportunity" Mr. Taylor added.

A stock screen of the S&P 500 Index reveals that about 26% of its components have a dividend yield between 3 to 6 percent. The average dividend yield for these companies stands at 4.15%, while the median is at 3.16%. The following histogram portrays the distribution of all the companies in the S&P 500, according to their corresponding dividend yields. You will see that the chart skews to the left, with fewer companies driving up the overall average.

The tables on the next few pages depict some of the companies in the S&P 500 with dividend yields north of 5%. The yields on these companies are based on historical dividend payments, as per Thomson Reuters data. The dividend yields of these companies could change, as has been the case with many financial companies in the past few months including Citigroup and Bank of America. As you will see, financials represent a more dominant share of the highest yielding stocks. As always, keep in mind that the stock screen 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 10% on the next page

Stocks yielding over 10%: ~40% of them are Financials

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Stocks yielding 6-10%

Stocks yielding 8-10%: ~30% of them are Financials

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Stocks yielding 6-8%: ~26% of them are Financials

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Stocks with yields over 5%

Stocks yielding 5-6%: ~18% of them are Financials