Desktop Stock Ticker | 3 Stocks With Safe 4% Yields

3 Stocks With Safe 4% Yields

Investors who are fretting over the stock ticker market’s next move should turn to dividends. Price gains, after all, can prove illusory.

In just more than 12 years, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has made four major thrusts past 8000 only to slide back below that mark each time. It topped 9300 in the summer of 1997, rose to more than 11900 five years later and smashed through 14000 in October 2007. There’s no telling whether this fourth and latest move above 8000 is the last or how long U.S. stock tickers can go without heading permanently higher; Japan’s main stock ticker index, the Nikkei 225, is close to where it was 25 years ago.

Since dividend payments aren’t dependent on price movements, shareholders of the three companies below will collect income whether the market rises, falls or stagnates in coming years. Each company pays more than 4%. That might not be a fortune, but it’s double the broad market’s average and well more than most bank certificates of deposits pay. Unlike CDs, stock tickers aren’t insured against principal loss. But then, unlike stock tickers, CDs don’t generally offer potential for larger payments and price gains over time. Beyond high yields, each of the companies below has earnings that dwarf their dividend payments suggesting the payments are safe, and each sells goods or services that tend to stay in demand in a soft economy.

Kimberly-Clark

Dividend Yield: 4%
Dividend as percentage of forecast 2009 earnings: 57%

Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark (KMB) makes mostly paper products used around the house or for personal hygiene. Its brands include Kleenex, Scott, Huggies and Kotex. Its sales are expected to dip less than 4% this year and regain lost ground next year while profits are rising on cost cuts. The company is a member of the Standard & Poor’s Dividend Aristocrats, meaning it has increased its payments in each of the past 25 years. Its shares sell for 14 times forecast 2009 operating earnings vs. about 19 times earnings for the S&P 500 index.

American Electric Power

Dividend Yield: 5.2%
Dividend as percentage of forecast 2009 earnings: 57%

Just over a century old, American Electric (AEP) power provides electricity to more than five million customers in 11 states. Power companies aren’t completely immune to economic downturns; American Electric’s sales to industrial customers have dipped lately. But companywide sales are expected to decline just 1% this year. The Columbus, Ohio, company issued 63 million new shares in April and used the proceeds to repay debt. Such stock ticker offerings tend to dilute the value of existing shares, but American Electric shares have about matched the S&P 500′s performance over the past year and carry a much larger dividend yield of more than 5%.

Telefonica

Dividend Yield: 4.3%
Dividend as percentage of forecast 2009 earnings: 44%

Spain’s largest telephone company, Madrid-based Telefonica (TEF), is feeling the effects of the country’s worrisome jobless rate. The European Commission reckons Spanish unemployment will top 20% next year. Growth in phone and Internet services in Latin America is offsetting Telefonica’s slowdown at home, though. The company’s shares sell for just 10 times earnings, well cheaper than Verizon (VZ) or AT&T (T). And Telefonica’s dividend yield of 4.3% might be too small. The company generates cash equal to more than 10% of its market value each year, meaning it could raise its payments going forward.

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