Stocks to buy

Dividend stocks and income investing are back on everyone’s radar in 2023. Safe mainstays like short-term Treasury Bills and high-yield savings accounting generate decent returns for the first in years. Still, some investors want to avoid broad market volatility and shy away from tech and growth stocks but want to squeeze a few more basis points from their investment.

Dividend stocks, for many, are the answer. The S&P 500’s Dividend Aristocrats index returned more than 8.5% since the beginning of the year, almost doubling even the highest high-yield savings accounts with fewer price swings than the overall market.

The dividend yield isn’t the final say in income investing strategies, though. Investors often dig a bit further below the surface to uncover the company’s payout ratio. This metric, calculated as the proportion of earnings paid out as dividends, provides a more complete picture than just the dividend yield. It helps income-focused investors gauge whether a company can maintain or increase its dividends over time, ensuring a reliable income stream – ultimately prizing longevity alongside cash flow.

Medtronic (MDT)

Source: Shutterstock
  • Payout Ratio: 96%

Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) is a global medical service mainstay firmly entrenched within its industry while still pushing forward with new innovative techniques, including artificial intelligence applications in healthcare.

Medtronic took a beating alongside most healthcare stocks post-pandemic, but the company’s payout philosophy is beyond reproach. The company consistently raised its annual dividend for almost half a century, and the company’s CFO reassured investors that Medtronic plans to distribute a minimum of 50% of its free cash flow to shareholders through 2023.

Beyond its dividend strategy, Medtronic’s reputation as a pioneering force in medical device innovation adds to its allure. By fostering collaborations with hospital networks through risk-based contracting, it is carving a path for improved patient outcomes and cost reduction. As healthcare delivery becomes increasingly costly, Medtronic’s proposition makes it an appealing ally for many institutions. This and other strategic moves, paired with a high payout ratio and emphasis on returning value shareholders, make Medtronic a high dividend stock dream.

Edison International (EIX)

Source: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com
  • Payout Ratio: 131%

Utility companies often attract dividend investors due to their stable customer base, dependable financials, and limited growth prospects leading to profit redistribution to shareholders.

Still, among peers, Edison International (NYSE:EIX) stands apart.

Viewed through a value lens, Edison surpasses industry dividend averages by nearly 2%, having consistently grown its annual yield for the last 19 years, including a planned 5.4% hike for 2023. In 2023 its stock price, after hitting a low in October 2022, climbed impressively, outpacing industry averages by a significant margin. But numbers are just part of the equation.

Based in California, Edison faces greater state regulatory obstacles than its counterparts. However, this could prove advantageous given California’s unique approach to energy and climate management.

The spreading ban on natural gas and heightened demand for green energy practices across the state position Edison as one of the rare utility firms with tangible expansion plans. Despite its current focus on southern California, the growing preference for sustainability in the north suggests Edison’s potential to grow in parallel with California’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2045.

Quality growth prospects, decent dividend yield, and a staggeringly-high payout ratio make Edison International among the easiest dividend stocks to pick for income investment strategies.

McDonald’s (MCD)

Source: Tama2u / Shutterstock
  • Payout Ratio: 62%

McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) likely needs no introduction to American (or global) consumers, but many investors overlook its dividend and income investing value.

From a value investor perspective, McDonald’s is a mature mainstay with an unbeatable market presence. It operates 38,000 locations in over 100 countries, giving investors geographic diversification, scaled operations, and a reliable cash flow. Additionally, the company’s robust balance sheet and iconic brand give it an undeniable competitive advantage that stops new entrants in their tracks. Furthermore, McDonald’s embraces technological advances and initiatives, continuing its focus on digital and delivery capabilities. These combine to show it’s adapting to changing consumer habits, indicating potential future growth.

For income investors, McDonald’s has a long history of paying and growing dividends. It is a part of the esteemed group of Dividend Aristocrats, which have increased dividends for at least 25 consecutive years. McDonald’s has increased its dividend for almost 50 consecutive years, displaying a strong commitment to return capital to shareholders. This consistent and growing income stream is ideal for those demanding income alongside stability in their dividend stock portfolio.

On the date of publication, Jeremy Flint held long positions in MDT and EIX. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Jeremy Flint, an MBA graduate and skilled finance writer, excels in content strategy for wealth managers and investment funds. Passionate about simplifying complex market concepts, he focuses on fixed-income investing, alternative investments, economic analysis, and the oil, gas, and utilities sectors. Jeremy’s work can also be found at www.jeremyflint.work.

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